Okay, that was a very bad play on words. Forgive me. But kantola is a secret, at least to the Western world.
Kantola, also known as spiny gourd, is a member of the gourd family and is used mainly in India and parts of South Asia. I saw them in my favorite Indian market and was fascinated. I bought a few and looked up how to use them.
Most recipes I found called for slicing and frying them, or, occasionally, boiling them. I decided to fry them for my first experiment, but kept the spices to a minimum, since I wanted to taste their natural flavor. I added a little salt, a bit of crumbled chile flakes, and a dash of turmeric, since that seems to be the spice de rigueur for this vegetable. Some sources said to peel them, while others said not to peel them. I peeled a couple and found it to be tedious because they’re so small. In the end, the skin was not an issue.
I heated up some oil (I found this extra virgin olive oil-sunflower oil and I wanted to give I a try). I toasted the chile flakes, then added the kantola and, after a minute, the seasonings. Then I transferred them to a paper towel to drain.
And you know what? They tasted like—surprise—fried squash. The flavor was very mild, although a few had a slightly bitter aftertaste, but it wasn’t unpalatable.
So, that was my timid first adventure with kantola. I’m going to go get some more and just go crazy. Maybe I’ll even mix them with other ingredients!