It is easy to adopt vegetables of foren places to the tried and tested, centuries-old culinary traditions of India. Gently simmered in dal or steam-sauteed in subjis, surrounded by complimentary spice seasoning, Indian recipes highlight vegetables’ inherently good nature without suffocating them with artificial flavors. Example is the following recipe. Here, in this Marathi based, rural popular Zunka recipe, zucchini is quickly stir-fried and seasoned with nutritious besan flour to a vibrant and crisp-cooked end result. I remember an old Bharat saying – “select your ingredients as if they were your future daughter-in-law”. Here it definitely applies and it’s jai ho to zunka when zucchini does not well up with loads of tears at the touch of heat. Yellow is the best for that reason and that’s why I planted yellow zucchini. But if you make it with green, pick young and firm-fleshed green zucchinis for this recipe.
(for two meals)
2, young and fresh yellow zucchini
1 red onion or shallot
1/4 cup besan flour
2 garlic cloves
2 dried, red chillies
1 tablespoon, grated dried coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
For tadka: from masala dabba, a pinch each cumin and mustard seeds, few curry leaves and a tablespoon of peanut oil
1: Cut yellow zucchinis to bite-sized pieces. (For young zucchini, skin tend to be thin, so don’t peel the skin.) Finely chop onion to small pieces.
Take besan, garlic, dried red chilli and coconut in a mixer or mortar. Add a pinch of salt and grind the ingredients to fine mix.
Now the prep work is done and on with cooking.
2: Place a cast iron skillet on stove-top. Add and heat oil. When oil is hot, add curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds and toast to fragrance for couple of seconds. Add onion and saute to soft. Add zucchini pieces and stir-fry over medium high heat for about five minutes until almost cooked but still crisp.
3: Sprinkle the besan mix, salt and turmeric. Turn up the heat slightly and saute for about two minutes. Scoop into a bowl and serve the zucchini zunka warm with chapati or sorghum roti.
Zucchini Zunka ~ for Meal Yesterday
Next year I have to remember how many zucchinis will appear in May, when I plant in March. For now, zucchini will have a culinary journey of its lifetime in my kitchen.
The following is a zucchini experiment, inspired by traditional ponganala recipe of South India.
Zucchini Ponganam ~ for Meal Yesterday
(for 3 to 4 batches)
3 cups, dosa batter
1 cup, grated yellow zucchini
1/2 cup, finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons, roasted cashew pieces
1 tablespoon, finely chopped green chilli
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon each – cumin and turmeric
2 tablespoons, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
To prepare ponganalu: a well-seasoned ponganalu pan
In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add and toast cumin to fragrance. Add and saute onion, yellow zucchini and green chilli for about five minutes. When they start to get crisp, add cashew pieces, turmeric, salt and cilantro leaves. Stir-fry few seconds and turn off the heat.
Add the skillet contents to dosa batter. Mix well. This is now zucchini ponganala batter.
Heat a ponganala(paniyaram) pan on medium heat. Add spoonful of ponganala batter in each impression. Cook few minutes on each side to golden brown like shown here in photos.
Serve zucchini ponganalu warm with chutney, honey or sambar. They make a tasty snack or filling mini meal.
Because zucchini is being so generous in my garden, I decided to return the favor and treat it royally. I picked two zucchinis. Diced them into bite-sized cubes and added them to rich cashew sauce. Zucchini looked like it was in a state of Zen, and that made us happy. This is a good zucchini recipe for those of you who would like to avoid tomatoes but still like to indulge in sauces.
Cubed Zucchini in Cashew Sauce
2 young and tender, yellow zucchini, cubed to bite-sized pieces
1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup crowder peas fresh or frozen (or any beans you prefer) for protein
1 tablespoon, peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon each – turmeric, salt and chilli powder (or to taste)
For cashew sauce:
2 tablespoons, roasted, unsalted cashew pieces
1 teaspoon each – coriander seeds and cumin seeds
4 cloves and half inch piece of cinnamon
1/2 x 1/2 inch piece ginger
Blend the above ingredients to smooth paste in a blender or mortar.
In a saucepan or skillet, heat oil.
Do the tadka (toast a pinch each cumin and mustard seeds).
Add onion and saute to soft.
Add zucchini and the peas.
Add the cashew paste and also turmeric, salt and chilli powder. Add about half cup water. Mix well.
Cover and cook for about ten minutes. Do not over-cook. Zucchini should remain crisp and tender.
Serve as a side vegetable for chapati or rice or with upma or dosa.
Yellow Zucchini in Cashew Sauce with Dosa ~ Meal on the Weekend
This is my first time preparing zucchini pesarattu and I have to say this first try has turned out to be the best garden to table zucchini experiment. The recipe is easy. Pick tender zucchini. Grate and add it to pesarattu batter. Zucchini pesarattu base is power-packed moong sprouts. To stabilize the moong batter, I added little bit besan flour. Grated carrot, onion and fresh ginger made good companions to tender zucchini. Simple and sublime, these delicious pesarattus evoked a longing for a summer supper beneath a large and shady mango tree.
Grated Yellow Zucchini, Carrot and Moong Sprouts
(for 10-12 pesarattus)
1 fresh and firm, medium-sized zucchini
1 medium-sized carrot
1 small red onion or shallot
4 Indian or Thai green chillies
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
4 cups sprouted moong beans
1/4 cup besan (gram flour)
Grate zucchini and carrot. Finely chop onion, chillies and ginger.
In a blender or food processor, take sprouted moong beans. Add green chillies, ginger and salt. Blend the ingredients to fairly fine consistency. Add about half cup of water for easy blending.
Take the pesarattu batter in a bowl. Add besan flour, onion and grated zucchini and carrot. Mix well.
Heat a tava or griddle. Pour a ladle full of batter onto the tava. Gently spread into a small circle. On medium heat, cook both sides to golden. They do not require oil or ghee. But drizzle some if you wish.
Serve warm. Good with chutney or raita on the side.
Zucchini Pesarattu with Coconut Chutney ~ for Meal Yesterday