This is a delicious South Indian Style Curry where Chow Chow (also known as choko or chayote) is cooked along with spices and coconut. It is a simple dish, perfect for a weekday meal.
Chow chow, called choko in Australia, is a funny little vegetable – a prolific bearer and definitely loved by Tamil South Indians who tend to love all gourds. It is slightly bland in taste, with a delicious crispness and an internal juiciness. Divine! It is generally cooked simply – kootu, kari, poriyal or sambar.
A kari is (generally) a vegetable side dish in Tamil Nadu and it is an important part of a balanced meal. Most people believe that the word curry comes from kari although the first term is generic for spicy dishes and the latter is a dish that can be served mild or made exotic with a variety of spices (and deep frying). There are lots of versions of the etymology of kari, but there is some agreement that its modern day usage means stir-fried. Still, you will find lots of different interpretations of it. Stir-fry vegetable dishes can also be called Poriyal and some Sundals are also classified as a kari. Kari can be made with a large variety of vegetables – carrots, beans, snakegourd, chow chow, plantain, Indian broad beans, cluster beans, corn, broccoli, etc.
Chow Chow Kari
2 medium chow chow (choko)
10 curry leaves
sea salt to taste
3 Tblspn grated coconut (frozen is Ok)
0.5 – 1 Indian dried red chilli, according to preference
1 tspn cumin seeds
0.25 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 tspn urad dal
1 tspn ghee
Pinch the end of the chilli, so it doesn’t explode while heating. Heat 0.5 tspn ghee and saute the chilli quickly until it is bright red and crispy. Blend to a coarse paste with the coconut and cumin seeds and 1 – 2 tspn water. Set aside.
Peel the chow chow and cut in half. Remove the inner seed – the best way to do this is with a spoon. Chop the squash into medium dice.
Heat 0.5 cup water in a kadhai or deep pan. Add a little salt and the chopped chow chow. Toss lightly until it is a rich green colour, then cover and cook over a medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until almost cooked. Then remove the cover and saute until it is cooked but still firm and the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the ground paste, stir well and remove from the heat.
Add the remaining ghee to a tadka pan and pop the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal. When it turns golden add the curry leaves (they will splutter), and pour over the cooked chow chow. Mix well and serve.
Chow Chow Kari goes well with rice or roti, or with sambar or rasam and rice.
This dish can also be made with finely chopped cabbage, carrots and peas, snake gourd or green beans.