We don’t bring zucchini into our home often and I think part of the reason is that the zucchini or courgette we find on an everyday isn’t always a stunner to look at as they are now. Right now, this cucurbit is having its moment in the sun and I could hoard heaps of it. Dalmationed green and yellow at times, the zucchini I have found off-late pack in quite a bit of girth and are plenty juicy. While great in dishes like a ratatouille or in zucchini boats, I am totally against the idea of taking too much away from the natural flavour of this squash, and so I treat them simply, using very few ingredients, like a great supporting cast in a play-you don’t need a crowd to make a difference, just a handful of great actors will do.
For my first dish, I pair zucchini with papdi beans. They are both charred beyond recognition but taste smashing over a bed of greek yoghurt with honey and chilli. Great swaps here would be maple syrup and smoked paprika. Greek yoghurt could be swapped for malai paneer blitzed and made nice and smooth. This is the kind of dish you make very little of, then settle down with on a rainy evening and enjoy something guilt-free.
The second, and still very easy to make are these sweet and sour gold zucchini coins skillet-fried till brown on both sides, then tossed in fruity Kachampuli vinegar from Coorg and sugar before finishing. The obvious swaps would be a sugarcane vinegar, balsamic vinegar or even just imli water if that’s all you’ve got. It’s a great tapas dish or even a mezze addition to have on the table. The onions I add because the soft flavours of the alium keep that vinegary sharpness away which I personally don’t like.
Charred Zucchini and Papdi Beans Recipe:
Charred Zucchini and Papdi Beans
I use my trusty grill pan for this dish, just charring everything up as much as I can without burning them to a crisp, though I fathom that too could be salvaged in some way.
Zucchini 1 large green, cut into 2-cm thick strips lengthwise, or 2 small
Papdi beans 100g, washed and trimmed, you can also use sheem that is halved
Extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
Garlic 1 clove
Salt and pepper
Greek yoghurt 100g
Honey 1 tbsp
Chilli flakes a generous pinch, or more
Heat the grill pan till it is smoking hot. Toss the paid beans and zucchini separately in extra virgin olive oil and season.
Lay the strips of zucchini in the grill pan and use tongs to ensure even charring on both sides. Leave the zucchini in the pan until nice scorch marks appear. Once you’re done with the zucchini, add the paid beans and again, cook it till it has black marks on it.
Season the greek yoghurt and grate over a clove of garlic into it. When plating use this greek yoghurt as the bed for the zucchini and the papdi beans. Drizzle over the tablespoon of honey and sprinkle the chilli flakes. Serve.
Sweet and Sour Zucchini Recipe:
Sweet and Sour Zucchini
Coorgi Kachampuli vinegar lends its fruity flavour to this zucchini dish, made better with onions. Browning the zucchini on both sides is best done in a seasoned cast iron skillet so that it browns the veg evenly.
Extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp
Golden zucchini 1 big or 2 small ones, cut into 3-cm thick coins
Salt and pepper
Red onion 1, sliced thinly
Kachampuli vinegar 3 tbsp, or use a Sugarcane Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar or Malt Vinegar instead
Demerara Sugar 1 tbsp
Chilli flakes a large pinch, or more
Garlic 2 cloves
Mint or coriander leaves 1 tbsp for garnishing
Heat your cast iron pan over medium high heat, then add 2 out of 4 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil to the cast iron pan. Meanwhile, season the zucchini coins. When hot, arrange the zucchini coins neatly in the pan. Brown the coins on both sides for 2-3 minutes each. When the zucchini is sufficiently brown, set it aside.
In a kadai, heat the remaining extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add in the sliced red onion and cook this, tossing it around till the onions are soft. Once the onions are soft, add in the vinegar and sugar. Cook for a minute, reducing the mixture over medium-high heat before adding the zucchini coins.
Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and grate in the 2 cloves of garlic. Cook for a minute more or until the vinegar and sugar starts to look a bit syrupy. Take it off the heat, check for salt and serve garnished with either mint or coriander leaves.