Just look at that zucchini! Juicy, fresh and luscious. Amazing vegetables that can be baked, grilled, char-grilled, steamed, fried, sauteed, boiled, mashed, and eaten raw. Full of seeds, but no-one minds. Not when the zucchini are fresh and young. Such soft, gentle seeds.
Zucchini is in season now and for the summer months, here downunder in Australia. They are as common as broad beans in the early days of spring
Using Lakshmik’s chutney recipe as a guide, I produced this is an amazing curry that is both gentle and strong. Go figure!
Don’t use large, old zucchinis for anything other that baking, stuffing or longer cooking. Try to use the smaller, younger veges whenever possible.
There are a couple of ingredients that you may not be familiar with.
Tamarind is the seed pod of a tree in India. It adds a spicy, sour zest to food, and is ubiquitous in Tamiland other South Indian food. I have written before about the Indian method of balancing the flavours in food, and tamarind is one of the most popularly used “sour” tastes. (But do not despair, it does not make the food taste sour – it just adds a zip to it.)
Tamarind is available from Indian food stores in pod form or as a paste or concentrate. I use a mash of the seedpods that I buy locally; it is complete with the seeds. The technique for using it is to soak a knob of the tamarind pulp in boiling water for 10 minutes, and then strain it, forcing as much of the pulp through the sieve or strainer into the liquid. Keep the liquid and discard the seeds. Add to the dish at the required time.
If you do not have tamarind at hand, use lemon juice. It won’t be the same flavour, but it will be Ok.
Urad Dal is a black gram or lentil commonly used in India for dishes, but also (as in this dish) for flavouring. In the West we don’t think of beans or lentils being used for flavour instead of the main component of a dish. However, when you get your head around it, your cooking will benefit. To use for flavourings, pan roast or fry the lentils and add to the dish.
Tadka, or Tarka
A Tadka is a ghee or oil based spice mix added to a curry at the end of the cooking. It adds a wondrous taste to the dish, so do not avoid this step. Also, the spices used in a taka are those that release their flavoursinto oil rather than liquid, like black mustard seed and curry leaves. Finally, black mustard seeds taste best when popped, a bit like mini popcorn, and the taka provides a mechanism for this.
Black mustard seeds
Available in Indian food shops and spice shops. If you can’t find them, don’t substitute yellow.
Available in Indian food shops and spice shops. Fresh is best, but dried will also work. If you can’t find curry leaves, leave them out. Bay leaves are not a substitute.
Asaphoetida or Asafoetida (pronounced “assa foh teeda”)
Asaphoetida is a VERY VERY pungent Indian spice that is used to replace onions and garlic in recipes. The reason for this is that, for spiritual reasons, some people prefer not to eat onions and garlic.
If you do not have asaphoetida on hand, slice an onion and a clove of garlic and cook with the zucchini.If you are using asaphoetida for the first time, it does need to “cook off” a little, so rather than stirring it it into a liquid mix, add it to the end of sauteing ingredients and give it 30 secs or so to cook.
Lovely served over rice. Especially a plain white rice or a lemon rice. You can add an Indian pickle on the side. Make a fresh chutney, maybe coriander chutney, and add a small green salad. Dinner is served.
When I cooked it, I had a small amount of quinoa that I needed to use up, so I stirred it through the curry. Not at all Indian but was so delicious.
Source : inspired by Veggie Cuisine – similar recipe, slight change to ingredients and method, ending with a curry rather than a chutney
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
4 medium zucchini
2 red chillies – roasted if you have them
0.5 green chilli
1 scant tspn tamarind paste
4 Tblspn Urad Dal
1 Dstspn Cumin
Sea Salt to taste
Ghee or oil
0.5 – 1 Tblspn ghee
2 tspn black mustard seeds
1 – 2 stalks curry leaves
small piece red chilli
Cut the zucchini into cubes.
Roast the urad dal in a dry frying pan until toasted and a roasted aroma arises. If you do not have roasted chillies, add 1 or 2 fresh chillies split lengthwise to the pan while roasting.
If using roasted chillies, add them to the pan at the end of roasting the urad dal.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
Saute the zucchini in ghee until slightly browned and tender but not overcooked. Add the asaphoetida and stir through the zucchini, allowing it to cook a little. Add the tamarind paste and stir it through.
Add the cumin seed and mix it through for 30 seconds before adding the urad dal and chilli mix. Stir to mix well.
Add salt to season.
Make the tadka
Heat ghee in a clean frying pan. When melted, add the black mustard seeds and curry leaves with the chilli. Allow the mustard seeds to pop (be careful of splattering).
Pour over the zucchini curry.
Sprinkle with some fresh coriander leaves and serve over rice.