This Vegan Indian Dish Showcases the Great Flavors of Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Good-quality zucchini and yellow squash are available in markets year round, but we can buy extra-flavorful locally grown varieties during the warm weather months. I’m still seeing high-quality specimens at my markets in St Louis. And even though I’ve used both types of squash in various recipes at least a dozen times this spring and summer, I can never get enough of them.
But I’m ready for a new flavor twist.
Like this easy and tasty creation. It would make a great side dish for any Indian meal. But because it isn’t over-spiced, you can also serve it alongside roast or grilled fish, chicken, or meat.
It’s simple to prepare. Or you can make it ahead and reheat when you’re ready to serve.
What a great way to eat your vegetables!
Recipe: Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce
Garlic, ginger, and ground roast cumin subtly flavor this dish. A touch of heat arrives with jalapeño peppers, a hint of tartness with fresh lemon juice. This is a dish with a fairly mild (although delicious) flavor; no one who tastes it will find it “too spicy.”
I discovered this recipe in Julie Sahni’s Mogul Microwave. Although designed to be “nuked,” this dish tends to be a bit cumbersome for the microwave. So I adapted it to the stove-top. BTW, if you like Indian cooking and don’t know Julie Sahni, you should get acquainted — she has authored some excellent cookbooks.
This is a dish that you can cook partially ahead of time, then finish when you’re ready to serve (see Step 6). This recipe serves about 8.
Prep time is 15 minutes; cooking time another 10 or so. So allow 30 minutes, max, to prepare this. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
- ~1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- 2 - 5 cloves peeled garlic, finely minced (use the smaller amount if you don’t want much garlic flavor, more if you do)
- 2 - 3 jalapeño peppers (both the green ones and the red fully ripe ones work well; use as many as you’re comfortable with)
- ~2 pounds mixed zucchini and yellow squash, cut into ½ inch dice or ¼ inch slices (or you can use just one type of squash if you wish)
- 3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes (double if you wish; if you have good-quality fresh tomatoes on hand, you can substitute those)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 - 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground roast cumin seeds (you need to prepare these somewhat ahead of time; see Notes for recipe and substitutions)
- chopped cilantro or jalapeño peppers for garnish (optional)
- Peel and finely mince the ginger and garlic (I often mince these in a mini food processor — in which case, I also add the jalapeño peppers; see next step).
- Wash jalapeño pepper and cut lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop into very small dice (or use a mini food processor — just add them to the ginger and garlic in Step 1). Add to the bowl, and then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Wash the zucchini and/or yellow squash, and cut into ½-inch dice or ¼-inch slices. (When cutting into slices, if the vegetables are fat, I suggest first slicing them in half lengthwise; it they're really fat, I often cut in halves again.)
- Heat a Dutch oven or sauce pan on medium heat. (If you have a skillet with high sides — at least 3 inches — you can use that.) When hot, add oil. When the oil is hot (this takes seconds; it shimmers), add minced ginger, garlic, and jalapeño peppers. Sauté until very lightly browned (perhaps 4 minutes).
- Add zucchini, yellow squash, and tomato. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the zucchini and yellow squash are tender (8 - 10 minutes).
- If you wish, you can prepare the dish ahead of time to this point. When cooked, remove from heat (you may want to undercook the dish by a minute or so and finish the cooking when you reheat). The zucchini and squash mixture can sit at room temperature for 2 or 3 hours; or you can refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, reheat and proceed with next step.
- Remove squash mixture from heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and roast ground cumin seeds and stir to incorporate. Taste again and add more lemon juice and/or cumin seeds if you wish. Serve (a garnish of chopped cilantro or jalapeño peppers is nice, but not necessary).
- To prepare ground roast cumin seeds: Place 2 or 3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds in a microwave-safe dish (I use a Pyrex pie plate). Microwave on high power until the seeds turn several shades darker and smell fragrant (3 - 4 minutes in my microwave). Remove, and allow to cool. When cool, grind in a spice grinder (I use a coffee mill that I keep just for spice grinding) or in a mortar (using a pestle). Store in an airtight container; the seeds will remain fragrant for a good month. This amount is more than you need for the Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce recipe, but roast cumin is so fragrant and flavorful that you’ll find other uses for it!
- If you can’t find whole cumin seeds (most, but not all, grocery stores carry them), substitute ground cumin. In this case, roast only 1 teaspoon (or perhaps a bit more just to be safe, in case you want more when you taste the dish in Step 7). Place in the Pyrex pie plate and microwave on high for a minute or two (just until you begin to smell the aroma of roast cumin). This isn’t as flavorful as ground roasted whole seeds, but it will do.
- Cumin certainly adds some flavor to this dish, but it’s the aroma that you’ll notice as you eat it. That’s why you add the cumin at the last minute — so the perfume doesn’t have time to dissipate.
- You add the lemon juice at the end for a similar reason: Its fresh tartness helps “season” the dish.
- I like to use both zucchini and yellow squash in this recipe because the resulting dish is so colorful, but you can use only one or the other if you wish.
- I sometimes also add a red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper for the same reason (and the flavor boost is nice). If you want to add this: Cut it into pieces ½-inch square, add to the ginger mixture in Step 4, and sauté.
Midway Through Indian Fortnight
We’re halfway through our two weeks of Indian recipes on Kitchen Riffs. Last week we discussed Pink Dal with Swiss Chard and Aromatic Yellow Rice. Those two can be served as side dishes, or you can combine them to make a complete meal.
Today’s recipe, Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce, is definitely a side dish. It doesn’t make a whole meal by itself, so you need to combine it with something more substantial. Maybe some nice Tandoori Chicken? And a potato dish heavily flavored with ginger and garlic? Sounds good to me!
We’ll be discussing both of those recipes later this week. Which is a good thing, because Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is already sitting at the dinner table, knife and fork at the ready, a look of eager anticipation on her face.
You may also be interested in reading about:
Pink Dal with Swiss Chard
Aromatic Yellow Rice
Sweet Potatoes in Curry Sauce
Red-Braised Beans and Sweet Potatoes
White Bean and Potato Soup
Split Pea Soup with Greens
Vegan Mapo Tofu
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans Garlic Coleslaw
Mustard Potato Salad
French Potato Salad
Edamame and Bean Salad
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
I also like to use a mix of green, yellow and red peppers in dishes like this. This sounds nice for a weekend meal. :)
Hi John, this dish, the first photo especially, screams Summer! to me and I love it! Being a summer person I like summer to stay in my home as long as possible. I don't know about this dish being a side dish: not for me. I can eat this as lunch or dinner with just a small piece of homemade rye bread. :) When I lived with my parents, fall was the busiest time of the year, and I remember dinners at that time were meatless: we ate all vegetables stews, grilled veggies, roasted, you name it. I think it was due to a fact that we ate seasonally. And those seasonal habits die hard: I crave certain vegetables at specific times of the year: June - cherries, July and August - tomatoes, september-october - eggplants, peppers, beans, apples, squashes... The only thing I crave year round is dill, but that's because we had it at home year round... :)
Ooh my husband would LOVE this recipe! Bookmarking now =)!
There are so many delicious vegetables in this, the first time you make me crave Veges ;)
Choc Chip Uru
Hi Alex, it's a pretty combo of colors, and a great combo of flavors. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Marina, I agree that seasonal cravings are almost "baked" into us - hard to undo years of eating things at certain times. We do eat meat in the summer, but veggies tend to dominate - in large part because they're abundant, inexpensive, and look so great! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, you'll definitely have to make it! Quite good, and pretty, too! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Uru, always happy to make you crave your veggies! Thanks for your comment.
New flavour twists are great and this has all my favourite flavours and is certainly a great way to eat your veges. I hadn't thought about doing my cumin seeds in the microwave. I always toast them in a pan but you can't take your eyes off them or they are ruined. And add it at the end - good to know.
I have not heard of her but I will make sure to put her name on my list to check at the library. Thank you for these wonderful Indian recipes. I should save the ones with ginger definitely. I always buy a big piece of fresh ginger, with all good intentions. But by the time I get around to finding a good recipe, it is already gone bad. Waiting for the other recipes (after you have dinner with Mrs. Kitchen Riffs of course!) :)
Hi Suzanne, I often roast my spices in a pan on the stove, too, but the microwave method really works pretty well. This is a great dish - something I think you'd enjoy. And it's certainly pretty healthy! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ilke, most of Julie Sahni's cookbooks were written 10 or more years ago, but they work. I sometimes have the same problem with ginger - I overbuy, and there's so much other good stuff to use that I never get around to using it all. I think you'll enjoy the next two recipes - the potato one makes good use of ginger! Thanks for your comment.
Toasting the spices really makes them wonderful in this dish. In the microwave? Novel idea! Always looking for different flavorful ways with veggies thanks for the inspiration. Take care, BAM
That looks so good. I love zucchini and yellow squash. What a great vegetarian meal; it looks full of flavour xx
I agree this would be a great way to eat your vegetables. Love the colors of this dish.
Oh, yum and yummier! My friend told me that St. Louis is apparently known for its frozen custard; I'm planning a visit within the year, so I can't wait to give the summer season squash there a try. While we're on the subject, any recommendations for the produce/food/sights scene?
Hi Bam, that microwave trick is really neat - and it really works! Not my trick - that's from Julie Sahni. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Hotly Spiced, it's a really good dish - very fresh flavor, subtly spiced. One of my favs. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Words of Deliciousness, isn't it pretty? It's so much fun to put on the table - great color, enticing aroma. Good stuff! Thanks for your comment.
Hi wallflourgirl, St. Louis is a fun place to visit - lots to do. For frozen custard you must try Ted Drewes - it's the original and best. For produce, I suggest a visit to the farmer's market at Tower Grove Park - it's probably the best farmer's market at the moment (although there are several others that are quite good). It's in a park that's close to Shaw's Garden, which is you like botanical stuff is a must - it's world class, ranked up there with Kew Gardens. Both of them are pretty close to the "Hill," an Italian neighborhood with tons of Italian-American restaurants (a lot of red sauce). I'd also suggest a visit to the zoo (it's great, and free), the art museum (very good, also free), and the St. Louis Science Museum. During the summer the St. Louis Muny Opera offers musicals and scuh in an open air theater. If you like real opera, if you're here in June the Opera Theatre of St. Louis is quite good (small, but innovative productions). If you have any interest in baseball, a visit to watch the Cardinals is fun. And while downtown you can see the St. Louis Arch. Lots of other stuff to do - I'm just listing some of the most obvious things (and missing many!). And for food other than the Hill, there are dozens and dozens of good choices - email me when you're close to visiting and let me know your preferences, and I'll have suggestions. Thanks for stopping by!
I love how colorful this soup is. This would be a big hit at my place!
wooow...yummy & healthy
As much as I love Indian food, I usually skip zucchini and squash becuase I don't like the cooked down texture of those vegetables but here, you make it look really appetizing and definitley like something I would want to eat!
Hi Asmita, aren't the colors pretty? One of my favorite things about this dish! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Jay, wow indeed! ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi everydaymaven, you bring up an excellent point - overcook zucchini and squash and you have . . . mush. The key is to cook it until it's just done - just past al dente. Then it holds its shape, its texture doesn't turn soft, and the flavor remains crisp. Thanks for your comment.
Thanks a bushel and a bundle for such helpful tips--I'll run all of these by my friend, and I will definitely have to take you up on your offer for more seasonal suggestions when I drop by. Always great to hear from you--cheers!
this would truly make for a great side. I like that it isn't very spicy and served alongside chicken or fish would just complete the meal.
I love dishes like this that you can prepare ahead of time and then finish when you need to. And I love Indian flavors too. In fact I am looking for Indian recipes at the moment for an Indian dinner party we're having next week! So perfect timing!
That looks awesome....I love Indian flavours and dishes, but sometimes they are a bit heavy....this would be a great alternative...and I think would go perfectly with Tandoori Chicken! Thanks for sharing :)
We've just gotten a taste of the cool Fall eves and I love how the spice in this just warms you. It's the perfect transitional side dish! And the colors make me smile.
Hi Baker Street, it's really a versatile side. Obviously at home in an Indian meal, but you can serve it with literally anything and it's not out of place. Good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Junglefrog, making this dish ahead is one of the real features! You literally just need to bring it up to heat (and cook it a tad if you've deliberately undercooked it), then season with the lemon juice and cumin. Easy! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Ali, Indian can definitely be heavy - which sometimes you want. The flavors in this are light and subtle. It's mainly the veggies you taste, with the other ingredients in the background. It's excellent with Tandoori Chicken! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Claudia, this is a nice dish for fall - you've got the summer flavors but the spices, as you suggest, are warming. The colors make me smile too! Thanks for your comment.
Hi wallflourgirl, please do get back in touch when you're close to visiting! Lots to do here - you'll have fun.
What a great summer squash recipe! Besides just being pretty, I'm sure it tastes delicious! I've never paired ginger with summer squash. I use it with winter squash all of the time, so why not summer?! Sounds great! Your squash looks perfectly cooked - not mushy the way my mother use to make! And she wonders why I didn't like squash when I was a kid. :)
Hi MJ, mushy squash isn't very good, is it? You should definitely try pairing ginger with summer squash - really nice flavor. Thanks for the comment.
This will be a great way to use up the garden harvested squashes and zucchinis. What a nice dish and so delightful? All you need is a plate of basamiti rice to soak up all the good curry gravy. Yum!
I came to see that photo again, can't have enough of it (at least on the picture!) :)
Hi Marina, always a pleasure to see you here, no matter what the reason!
Hi Holly, there's such an abundance of summer squash that I'm always looking for more recipes - that's why I originally made this! And this is nice with rice to accompany it, or a nice Indian bread. You do need a main course with this, IMO. Thanks for your comment.
Zucchini (squashes) go so good with cumin, I like to bake them in the oven. This recipe is simple and really respectful of the squashes flavour.
Hi Lizzie, baked zucchini can be great! And I agree zucchini (all squash, really) combines well with cumin. Thanks for the comment.
Gorgeous dish... I love squash and add it to all my stir fries and curries too:)
Ohhh, I just had boring summer squash sauteed with tomatoes tonight. Wish I had seen this first!
Hi Tania, isn't it pretty? Tasty, too! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Julie, well, you can do this dish next time! Highly worth making, and pretty quick and easy to make. Thanks for your comment.
Is holy crap an inappropriate response? This is freaking fabulous!
This sounds so full of flavor and definitely with a kick with 3 jalepeno's, I hope not with seeds though! Or maybe so for those that love heat. Where's the curry or did I miss it.
Yum this would be a nice side dish. I'll have to try and make it.
Hi Kim, ;-) It's good stuff - you should make it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, I'm using curry in the generic sense - a mix of flavors with chilies (in this case the jalapeño peppers, ginger, garlic, and cumin are the curry ingredients). No seeds for the jalapeño peppers (see Step 2) - this is a subtle dish, the heat from the seeds would be kinda strong! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Simple veggie with bold flavor curry. Sounds like a perfect match! I love squash in the curry because it absorb all the nice spices. Hmmm looks and sounds very delicious John!
A delicious vegetarian dish! Perfect as main course or side dish. I'd eat that any day.
Hi Nami, it's a great dish. Definite spicy flavor, but nowhere near over-the-top. Really healthy, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosa, it's really a nice veggie dish. One of the things I like about it is you can taste the flavor of every ingredient, yet they all blend together nicely too. Really enjoyable. Thanks for the comment.
What a flavorful vege dish. I could have this alone for lunch :)
Hi Biren, great flavor, fun color. A heaping helping would be nice at lunch. Thanks for your comment.
What a terrific use for the summer squash growing in my garden. I assisted a chef in an Indian cooking class a few weeks ago and really enjoyed all the lovely, warm spices. I'm so enjoying your two weeks of Indian cooking. It coincided perfectly with my class.
What a wonderful blend of color and spices, Kitchen. I too appreciate the mingling of squash with cumin however, I had no idea that you could "toast" cumin in the nuker. Very intriguing. I may just need to give it a try just for the heck of it! I do plan on finding the last bites of summer squash at the market this weekend, wish me luck! And, thanks for sharing...
Hi Mother Rimmy, aren't Indian spices so nice? Love the flavors. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Louise, it's a pretty dish. Toasting cumin in the microwave is a neat trick. Not that doing it on the stove top is much work, but it's an easier process. And when you begin to smell the aroma of the toasted spice, you know it's basically done. Good luck with finding excellent squash this weekend! And thanks for the comment.
I should recipes like this one more often. Sounds so healthy. Plus there are still freash vegetables around :)
Hi Marta, it is a pretty healthy recipe. And a great way to use those last fresh veggies of summer! Thanks for your comment.
I'll add my voice to the choir and say this is one good-looking dish. A real salute to Summer. The fact that it is a curry makes it all the better. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Chicago John, it has a nice, fresh taste with a light spicy flavor - good stuff! And pretty, too. Thanks for your comment.
Love the flavor combinations here. So interesting that it started out as a microwave dish. I don't own one, so stovetop it is for me as well!
Hi Katherine, the flavors are so fresh and bright in this dish! Really good. That cookbook was published back when people tried to use microwaves a lot more for serious cooking. Maybe they still do - I haven't really kept up - but my impression is that ship has sailed. Anyway, Sahni's cookbook is pretty innovative with some great recipes. But I don't use the microwave for most of them (a few I do) - it's really no easier or even faster in most cases than the stovetop. Thanks for the comment.
Made this tonight, adding a sliced Portobello that needed to be used. I served it over quinoa and it was sooo good! I might add some chickpeas to the leftovers to satisfy my protein-hungry hubby. The toasted cumin seeds really send this dish--Thanks!
Hi natalplum, I really like the idea of adding chickpeas! Brilliant. Glad you enjoyed this, and thanks for letting me know through your comment.
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