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And then sometimes a garden makes you laugh out loud. Like this monstrously huge zucchini that had been hiding under the huge leaves for nearly a month, that had missed my keen scrutiny each morning only to be found by my driver a few days ago. He showed me this green thing nearly as big as a new born baby-and I shuddered! And then laughed so hard when I knew that it was indeed a zucchini that had hidden away from all prying eyes and grown so big~nearly 2.5 kilos.
|Not to show off my (old) iPhone but to give you size perspective :) |
This is after a third of the zucchini has been chopped off
I kept it on my table to admire it's beauty for the first 2 days, then it spent a few more days in the refrigerator. When other vegetables came in from the supermarket, this big fellow could no more occupy precious refrigerator real estate and he had to be brought out.
The husband is not a big fan of zucchinis and though we had shared enough jokes about how big this sly vegetable had grown, his enthusiasm stopped there. When I was cutting it up this morning, he said, "Please, I don't want this for lunch." Since there are very few things he doesn't like, I usually indulge his whims, but this time, I just smiled and said "We will see."
Over the six years that I've been food blogging, I've seen several bloggers making Zucchini thogayal. But zucchini, in India, has always retailed at around Rs.100 a kilo. At that price, why on earth would I want to puree it to death in a blender. I wanted to see and enjoy this vegetable in salads, pasta and such. But thogayal, no way!
But when you have a 5 pounder zucchini sitting on your counter top, the thogayal did indeed seem like a good idea. And boy, did it taste good or what.
|Zucchini Thogayal and Zucchini Curry (both recipes below)|
For the uninitiated, thogayal or thuvaiyal is a Tambrahm style of converting mildly unpalatable vegetables (Chow-chow, pumpkins, ridge gourds, bottle gourds etc) into chutneys so Tambrahm uncles will mumble good things about the food even if they are eating some vegetable they don't like. Many blogs will say you can eat Thogayal on bread or with idli or dosai or chapathi or pasta or just about anything. I wont say they are lying. But there is only one way to really savour this. Hot rice, gingelly oil (yes, oil and NOT ghee) and thogayal and a roasted appalam on the side.
And the zucchini hating husband tasted some of it, hesitantly, after he had eaten beans curry-rice and rasam and said "Please keep some for me, I want to eat this for dinner."
I guess after this, I can well call this 5 pounder- 'Zucchini Iyer'.
2 medium sized green zucchinis
1/4 cup scraped fresh or frozen coconut
a tiny piece of tamarind soaked in 2-3 tsp of water
2.5 tsp gingelly oil or any other cooking oil
2 tbsp + 1 tsp udad dal
4 medium dried red chillies
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
2 sprigs curry leaves
Fat pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 green chilli
- Chop the zucchini into medium sized cubes. No need to peel the skin.
- Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan. Add 2 tbsp udad dal and red chillies and saute on medium heat until the udad dal is golden brown. Remove onto a plate and cool for few minutes.
- Heat the remaining 1 tsp oil in same pan. On high heat, scald the chopped zucchini by tossing it around for a minute or so.
- Reduce the flame, add 1/4 cup water, pinch of salt, cover and cook till zucchini is tender and fully cooked.
- In small mixer-grind the fried udad dal-red chillies, soaked tamarind and coconut to coarse paste. To this add the cooled cooked zucchini, salt and scrape the sides of the mixer and grind to a paste. Remove this into a bowl.
- Heat 1-2 tsp oil in a tempering ladle or small kadai. Add pinch of asafoetida, mustard seeds, once they splutter, add curry leaves and udad dal. Wait for dal to turn golden and transfer the tempering over the thogayal.
Traditionally a lot more coconut is used, so you could use as much as your health consciousness permits.
If you know this one recipe, you will have at least one way to deal with most of the vegetables that the world at large considers boring.
Another way to Tambrahm-ise Zucchini : Zucchini Curry
A small clarification here. In Tambrahm cooking, a curry is not a gravy dish that Brits seem to love. It's a simply prepared dry saute with minimal spices and the star being the tempering. I pressure cooked this for a bit as it was a mature zucchini, if your's is tender, you can simply add it raw and cover and cook till done.
- Place 1.5 cups of zucchini pieces (small) in a container in a pressure cooker. Don't add water to zucchini. Pressure cook for one whistle.
- In a kadai, heat 2 tsp oil. Add pinch of asafoetida, 2 dried red chillies, 1 tbsp udad dal, few curry leaves, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and saute till udad dal is golden.
- To this add the cooked (or raw) zucchini, pinch of turmeric (optional), salt and toss gently to coat with tempering, on a low flame.
- Add a bit of fresh coconut and it's ready to serve. Those who find this very bland can add 1-2 tsp of sambar powder or rasam powder towards the end and give it another toss.