Lauki Halwa (Sweet Cucuzza)
Lauki (law-key) is a squash vegetable known as Bottle Gourd or by Italians as Cucuzza. It's used in many savory Sicilian and South Asian dishes. Growing up I remember my mom making a vegetable ratatouille out of it or adding it to lentils, but one of my favorite ways was Halwa. Halwa means sweet in South Asia and Lauki Halwa is literally what it is, "Cucuzza Sweet."
Thanks to Better Food Farm (check out their website here) I was able to make this childhood favorite of mine and have my house smell like my mama's!
The Cucuzza I picked up from Better Food Farm was almost as tall as my 3 yr old...about 3 ft tall (38 inches). After a good cucuzza sword fight between my boys, I was finally able to get a hold of it to make this delicious sweet dish.
You want to start by washing, drying and peeling the Cucuzza squash. Then you want to shred/grate it. This can be done by hand or in a food processor with a grater attachment. Put all the grated squash in a cheese cloth and squeeze out as much access water as you can.
Next you will want to get all your ingredients ready.
-2 to 2.5 cups shredded Lauki (cucuzza squash) -1 cup Milk -1/2 cup Sugar or sweetener of choice (to taste) -1/2 cup Khoya or Dry Milk <--get the recipe for homemade Dry Milk (Khoya) here. -1 heaping tbsp Shredded Coconut -1 tbsp Pistachio -1 tbsp Almonds -1 tsp Ground Cardamom -1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
-Pinch of Salt -8 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter/butter)
In a large nonstick pot melt your Ghee (butter) and add your drained, shredded Lauki. Mix and cook it down until the water evaporates.
Once your Lauki has dried out add in your milk, sugar/sweetener of choice, and all your spices. Mix and cook for 5 minutes then add the shredded coconut. Now cook down the Cucuzza squash on med/high heat, stirring every 5 to 7 minutes until the liquid evaporates, and it starts to thicken.
Once the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and there are no more bubbles stir in the Khoya. Adding the Khoya or dry milk helps thicken the mixture further and absorb any extra liquid that may be left after cooling. Take off the heat and stir in the nuts.
Serve it warm (my favorite way) or chilled with extra Khoya and ground pistachios, and enjoy this delicious treat with the perks of having your home smelling divine!
*To store: Let it cool completely before refrigerating it in an air tight container for up to a week or freeze in an airtight container for up to a month. **Recipe Printable!