Chayote with potato and prawn dish is light, tasty and delightful. The subtle flavour of the Bengali five-spice lends this dish an umami deliciousness. That is why I call this a soul-satisfying dish.Jump to Recipe
Relation between food and experiences
Every dish that we prepare, has a story behind it, be it at my home or yours. Whether you agree or not, it does. If you think back about your recent meal, how did you come about deciding upon the dishes? Did you just throw in whatever your fridge had to offer or was it a pre-planned menu for the day and you had done your shopping accordingly? What was the inspiration or thought (to simplify it) behind cooking a dish? When you ask these questions, the answer that you get is your story!
I find it quite interesting when I sit down to write about a dish. Sometimes it takes me back to my childhood days or sometimes it is just us – me and family creating our own moments. It could be interactions with friends, family, a thought or even an ingredient that could trigger our imagination or inspiration.
Our palate or the food we cook is usually influenced by the sights and smells we grow up with. whether consciously or subconsciously. This chayote with potato and prawn recipe is my husband’s creation. We loved it so much the first time that now, it makes a regular appearance during the summer months. I call it a ‘soul satisfying’ dish. Especially when the days are hot, this mildly spiced, light dish acts as a thin veil of cool breeze!
The Bong Effect
My husband is a Bong but unlike a true Bong he does not seek out the typical ingredients that we would use back home. In other words, he likes to experiment and enjoy the adventure of doing so. Don’t get me wrong here, he loves food and eating and can never give up Bengali delicacies.
Growing up, he had never set foot inside their kitchen and never cooked a meal (maybe a few here and there during emergencies), but he has this ability to recall the smells and taste and visualise the spices and their effect. He doesn’t believe in following a recipe or measuring up spices but (I hate to say this), it always turns out ‘wonderfully delicious’. In Bengali, we would call it ‘hater jadu’ or magic hands, or so he says…hmph! Shh…don’t tell him I’ve said this, otherwise, he’ll bloat so much that I’ll have to tie him down
So, this chayote dish is an inspiration from a Bengali favourite during summer – ‘lau chingri’ or bottle gourd with prawn. We loved this variation & combination so much, that I had to share it with you guys. Lau chingri is prepared differently with different spices and has a different consistency, so as not to be confused or compared.
Now chayote or chow chow or squash or Choko or mirliton is not a native of Britain just as the bottle gourd isn’t. It is a warm season, tender perennial that grows in tropical or sub-tropical regions. It belongs to the same family as courgette, zucchini, cucumber, squash – Cucurbitaceae. Well, the good news is, gardeners in the UK are growing them successfully! Usually, popular supermarkets stock them or you would also find them in Asian or West Indian grocers. Chayote is furrowed, pear-shaped with a pale green colour skin. Their flesh has a watery texture and delicate flavour. I do not peel tender ones. However, the skin of mature chayote becomes tough and I would definitely peel it otherwise it does not cook easily. Be careful while peeling as the sap may cause skin irritation in some people.
Nutritional Benefits of Chayote
Chayote has an impressive list of nutritional benefits of this pear-shaped vegetable! It is low in carbohydrate, calories, to begin with, no fat, high in fibre, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K and a host of minerals. It has a host of antioxidant compounds that may help in maintaining heart health, skin, and blood sugar levels.
Tips to make the best chayote with potato and prawn
- Panch Phoran is a mix of 5 whole spices used in traditional Bengali, cooking as a tempering. The whole spices are – fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, Radhuni. You can buy a pre-mixed pack from a local South-Asian grocer or online. Or you can make your own, by mixing equal proportions of the whole spices. Radhuni (Ajmod in Hindi) looks like English celery seeds but it is not the same and can be substituted with cumin seeds, if unavailable. Panch phoran is also used as a pickling spice. These five spices are also used in cuisines of other Eastern states of India such as – Assam, Odisha, albeit might be in variations.
- The addition of sugar is optional; it is mainly used to bring all the flavours together. We do not want the sugar to caramelize, hence do not add it with the onion/ginger/garlic paste.
- I love the subtle flavour of parsley and as I had some growing in my windowsill herb garden, used it as garnish. If you are a fan of coriander leaves, feel free to sprinkle some. Or if you do not like any, just skip it! Easy, isn’t it?
- This dish can also be prepared without using onions. It tastes just as good with just the 5-spice tempering and ginger garlic paste. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.
- You can either buy shelled and cooked prawn off the supermarket shelf or buy raw and pre-cook.
- To cook prawns – shell and devein prawns. Marinate with a bit of salt and turmeric. Heat oil on a pan and add prawns. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Drain and keep aside.
If you want a vegetarian dish, simply replace the prawns with fresh or frozen green peas. You may also, add wadi, these are little spiced dried lentil nuggets. These are flavour bombs of Indian cooking and adds texture flavour to any dish.
So here is the recipe of this ‘soul satisfying’ dish.Print Recipe
Chayote with potato and prawn
- 2 Chayote diced (peel skin if it is tough)
- 2 medium sized potatoes peeled and diced into same size as the chayote
- 150 g cooked prawn
- 1 1/2 tsp Five Spice Bengali 5 spice; see hints & tips for more info
- 1 medium onion finely sliced.
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 – 1 tsp red chilli powder or according to your liking
- 1/4 tsp sugar optional
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Heat oil in a saucepan on a medium flame. Add panch phoran when it splutters add onions and sauté until soft.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 more minutes or until the raw smell disappears. Keep stirring to avoid the paste getting burnt.
- Tip in the vegetables and stir.
- Now add all the dry spices, sugar, and salt.
- Mix well till the vegetables are coated with spices. Sauté on medium high flame for about 5 minutes.
- Now cover and cook on low heat.
- The vegetables will get cooked in its own juices as chayote releases a lot of water.
- Check in between and stir.
- Cover and cook till done. It should take about 25 -30minutes in total.
- 2 minutes before removing, add the cooked prawn and just heat through.
- Garnish it with fresh, chopped parsley.
- Your yummy summer dish is ready.
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