Friday 2 September 2011

Zucchini Cumin

Our courgette plant has gone crazy. Every day it produces more and more of these fat green vegetables, and I swear to you, you can practically watch these suckers grow in front of your eyes. With such a glut of vegetables, I have had to come up with some creative ways of using them up, especially as they don't freeze well unless they are grated. That is not to say that these courgettes are not oh-so-delicious or healthy for you. Its only that there's so many of them and even the neighbours are getting sick of them!!

However, I have made a committment to myself to eat much more locally, and lets face it, you can't get more local than your own garden can you?

So far I've managed to make lots of dishes, plus even managed to put some away for winter in the form of these delicious pickles. But let me tell you, when one plant produces three or four fat courgettes in a day, then its time to get creative. And so I called upon my Indian heritage to make this delicately spiced dish, that is just perfect to use these up. In Mangalore, we have a style of cooking vegetables that we call jeerein meerien. Simple translated as cumin-pepper. Its a super simple stir fry style dish, and can be adapted for almost any vegetable. I normally make this dish with cauliflower, but this time I decided to see if the zucchini would hold up to the spices.

I was quite surprised at how well they held up, actually. I had picked two smaller, more tender courgettes for the dish, and they had this lovely, sweet flavour that added a very unusual counterpoint to the spices. In fact, the outside of the courgettes was almost caramelised, and the whole dish was just a feast for the senses. I did not fry the courgettes for a long time, and they stayed reasonably crisp, and the sweet crunch just added so much to the taste of the finished dish. I am always pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy these dishes, and how complex their flavours are, despite their simplicity.

The recipe for this dish is courtesy my mum, but I adapted it fairly heavily as I wanted it a lot milder. I also served this up just warm, as a side salad, instead of in its usual avatar as a side dish with meat. We had it with a barbequed salmon that Kay's brother caught on the Skeena.

Also, when Lisa announced that the challenge for this month's No Croutons Required challenge was going to be to make a soup or a salad with ingredients grown from out own garden, I knew pretty much that this was the recipe I was going to send in. It has everything needed for a quick, simple everyday supper, but the flavours were so delicious tha I keep going back to it over and over again... and I've just stuck my head out and noticed three more courgettes growing, so we're going to have this again very soon. Happy sigh!!

Zucchini Cumin 2

(Printable Recipe)

2 smallish, tender courgettes/ zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, diced fine
1/2 small tomato, diced (optional)
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1/2 tsp hot chilli flakes
Salt to taste
1 tbsp light olive oil
Fresh coriander, chopped to garnish (optional)


In a wide saute pan, heat the oil, and add the whole cumin. Fry for about 30 seconds, until they just start to darken, then add the diced onion.

Fry the onion for 4 - 5 minutes, until just soft and starting to colour. Add the ground cumin, pepper, grated ginger, chilli flakes and tomatoes (if using) and fry together for 2 - 3 minutes.

Add the chopped courgettes/ zucchini to this masala and stir fry together for about 6 - 8 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your courgettes.

Season to taste with the salt. Sprinkle over some more ground pepper, if desired, and garnish with fresh chopped coriander, if using.

Zucchini Cumin 1


  1. Wow! Spices in this dish are perfect! Nothiing like jazzing up a humble mellow zucchini!

  2. Mmm that looks delicious. Courgettes are in season here in France too and although I don't grow any, I always buy lots and then wonder what to do with them. I always end up making ratatouille. Thanks for this.

  3. Sounds good to me (especially with freshly-caught salmon, you lucky thing). I'm grateful for as many courgette recipes as I can get at the moment.

  4. That is one crazy plant indeed. Thank goodness, you have a lot of ways on how to deal with your plant. I wash I have my own crazy plant as well so that I could experiment with a few recipes that I have in mind.

  5. I'm scared to grow courgette because I just dont think I could cope with the volume of their cropping but I do like the look of this dish - perhaps time for a rethink.


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