Late February, a string of severe thunderstorms raged through Charlotte, N.C.
Many areas were spared the predicted heavy rains. What Charlotte wasn’t spared from was the gale-force winds, which knocked out electricity and blew down trees.
We were allowed to leave early from work after the power went out and it became obvious it wasn’t coming back on anytime soon. However, leaving early was not the treat I was expecting. Dozens of traffic lights were out, which made driving home an adventure. As I parked my car I noticed my house looked strangely dark – yep, no power.
You know what they say, though. It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.
Better yet to light a whole bunch of them!
The great thing about a gas stove, you can still cook even if the power goes off. You just have to light the burners by hand.
I’d long thought zucchini tasted very much like those long, green Indian squashes (lauki or bottle gourd), and I’d often wondered how zucchini would taste cooked in a similar manner. Now would be the perfect time to find out!
This is similar to my recipe for Lauki ki Sabzi. Since zucchini has a little less flavor than the long green Indian squash, I decided to make it North Indian style, with garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. My partner came home, obviously expecting a cold, dark house and orders to pick up from Chipotle or Moe’s. He was quite pleasantly surprised to find a romantic, candlelit kitchen and pots of food simmering on the stove.
This is a “dry” curry, which means there isn’t a sauce or gravy, and is therefore best served with a bread like roti, rather than rice.
Ingredients for Curried Zucchini:
3-4 Large Zucchini Squash
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 – 2 Green Chilis, finely diced
4 Cloves Garlic, crushed or minced
About a 3/4 inch piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 Roma Tomatoes, diced (or 4-5 tablespoons crushed tomatoes)
1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Coriander
1-2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Garam Masala
Fresh Cilantro for garnishing (optional)
Directions for Curried Zucchini:
Peel and chop the squash into cubes. Smaller cubes will cook more quickly, and are somewhat easier to eat with roti. The most important thing is to keep the cubes roughly the same size, so they will cook evenly. Set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter and pop.
Add onions and green chilis. Stir to coat the onions with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or so.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions start turning translucent. Always watch to make sure they don’t burn – add a little more oil, if necessary. Add the Roma tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes), coriander, and turmeric. Stir to make sure spices are evenly distributed, then reduce heat and cook for another 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
Add the zucchini. Stir gently to mix. Cover the skillet and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You shouldn’t need to add water, as the squash will release a lot of moisture as it cooks.)
When squash is beginning to get tender, add the salt and garam masala. Stir again. Cook another 5 minutes or so until the squash is tender to your liking. It did seem zucchini took longer to cook than traditional lauki! If the squash seems too watery, cook without the lid to allow some moisture to evaporate.
With the tomatoes, garlic, and ginger, it’s especially good with unsweetened non-dairy yogurt.
This was a warming meal on a cold, dark winter evening, but oddly this curried zucchini is also quite good cold.