Zucchini Curry:Kinda Sexy!

September 26, 2010

Remember how I said that zucchini wasn’t sexy? That zucchini had an image problem and needed a new stylist or something? Well, I still wouldn’t say that zucchini is Ryan Reynolds, but this summer/early fall, I’ve been somewhat successful at making some zucchini dishes that don’t induce yawns.

I’ve mentioned before that my mother-in-law is the Veggie Whisperer. Her South Indian upbringing served her well as far as the humble veg is concerned; she can even make okra (which, let’s face it, is disgust-ing) taste pretty good. She’s got the veggie magic.

This recipe for zucchini curry isn’t strictly South Indian–it uses pre-made curry powder and coconut milk–but it sure is delicious. The coconut milk adds a silkiness to the dish and there’s just a subtle nip of spice, nothing overpowering. The recipe advises the cook not to skimp on the cashews and the cilantro–and take that to heart–those extra elements really do *make* the dish.

This recipe came from the cookbook Gourmet Today, but I did tinker with it a little. I didn’t grind the garlic, ginger, jalapeno and salt into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Too much effort. I just chopped them all finely and it worked perfectly. I also reduced the amount of oil and cooked the zucchini in the coconut milk (easier on both the self and the ass) and the results were still delectable. And of course, I had to throw in some cayenne because we like things racy over here.

Serve this dish with lots of steamed rice to soak up the luxurious sauce and, if you wish, serve alongside your favorite protein. But truly, I don’t think you’ll miss a thing if you skip the meat. This curry is rich and flavorful enough to take center stage.

Zucchini Curry

slightly adapted from Gourmet Today

serves 6

1/2 teaspoon yellow, brown or black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 garlic clove, chopped

1-2 teaspoons jalapeno chile, including seeds*

2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger


1 tablespoon curry powder, preferably Madras

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

6 medium zucchini (3 pounds) cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 can unsweetened coconut milk, well-stirred (I used light coconut milk and it still came out well)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to sizzle and pop. Add cumin and ginger and stir for about a minute. Add jalapeno, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander and red pepper (if using) and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil and the sliced onion. Cook, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add zucchini, another teaspoon of salt and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is just tender, about 12-15 minutes.

Sprinkle cilantro and cashews over top and serve with rice.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

The Nervous Cook September 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Zucchini + curry = So, so sexy. Always. Red-pepper flakes, too! My favorite, favorite, favorite combo.


Amber September 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Oh my gosh, Kitch, my mouth is watering right now. I LOVE curry. If only it weren’t night time here. ) :


Christine @ Fresh Local and Best September 26, 2010 at 8:31 pm

This must be good if you say that this meal can stand on it’s own without a protein. I’ve enjoyed so many dishes with coconut curry and additional spices, I am sure that is also a good one.


Katybeth September 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Well, I was going to let my son take the very large Zucchini–I was given- and let him practice his ninja toss and slice routine–Zucchini is perfect for this (not as messy or as heavy as watermelon) But after reading this and having an over abundance of curry in my pantry–every time my mom visits she makes pilaf and buys a new container of curry-I have decided to use the zucchini for this dish, instead. The fact that you did not grind the spices gave me the confidence to say YES, I can make this, Thank you.


Winn September 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Curry is a favorite here! Sounds good. Although I’ll skip the nuts as I’m allergic. I’m sure it’ll be just as good. With the coconut milk, it almost sounds Thai… that works for me too.


camilla September 27, 2010 at 12:24 am

Sounds like a great dish, I’ll be borrowing this one!


Bryan September 27, 2010 at 1:33 am

That is kind of sexy for Zucchini, it is great that you have the veggie whisperer to learn from!


The Curious Cat September 27, 2010 at 1:43 am

This sounds really good…I’m bookmarking it to try at a later date! xxx


~Laura September 27, 2010 at 4:11 am

I’ve always been afraid of curries. Not sure why. They sound so exotic. But, this seems lovely.


Christine September 27, 2010 at 4:17 am

I love, I mean LOVE all things zucchini. I think I’ll make this tonight. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

P.S. I need your MIL to come and veggie whisper to my kids.


Phoo-d September 27, 2010 at 5:42 am

This is just what I needed when the zucchini were taking over our garden this summer! Simple, sexy, and delicious!


Kelly September 27, 2010 at 6:07 am

Every family should have a veggie whisperer. This dish looks scrumptious!


Michelle September 27, 2010 at 6:11 am

Looks good to me!


claire September 27, 2010 at 7:14 am

this looks amazing! my mouth is watering!


Lanita September 27, 2010 at 8:30 am

OK, I’ll have to keep this around for my anticipated overrun of zucchini next summer.


Lyndsey September 27, 2010 at 8:41 am

I surprised you didn’t haul out the ol’ mortar and pestal….hmm! One of my favorite pre-made curry powder is Madras, and this dish sounds great to me. I would love to try a dish that makes okra taste good. Being in the south we have it everywhere and I just can’t get into it! :P


Keyona September 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

Sexy? LOL! Sexy indeed.


Stephane September 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

Am I to understand that your KIDS enjoy the heat? (It seems so from this and previous posts and I am both wistful and deer-in-the-headlights incredulous.) How did you DO that? Can it be genetic?


TKW September 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm


Oh no, my kids will not touch this. They eat only things which come in nugget form.


Futureblackmail September 27, 2010 at 9:11 am

If I don’t know what over half the ingredients are in the recipe, I don’t even bother. :)

Excuse me, I’m gonna go have a burger.


Jenna September 27, 2010 at 9:21 am

Wow, my mouth is also watering. I LOVE a good curry–plus, zucchini is my 2nd favorite veggie (after mushrooms–though technically those are a fungus, right?).


Mrs.Mayhem September 27, 2010 at 10:27 am

Sounds yummy to me, but I can practically guarantee that the kiddos won’t even try one bite.

It’s my fault, really, for overdoing the veggies when they were younger. Now they’re prejudiced.

Still, I’ll try it (looks divine!), and I’ll report back if they actually consume some.


Barbara September 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

After staggering through that amazingly long list of ingredients (I am getting lazy in my 0ld age) I noticed the post below about your gerbil. Honestly, it was sooooo funny. I am still smiling. We never had one get lost for quite so long, but they are sneaky little buggers, and shoot out of their cages in a flash. So glad you found him for the kids’ sake!

So…back to the zucchini. It really looks delicious and I wish I could have you make it for me. :)


Sherri September 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

Definitely sexy ….. will be trying it :-).


Justine September 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Anything made into curry is a winner in my book. Sexy or not, zucchini is a hit with my fam, especially the little one, so curryfying it is not necessary but I definitely see the allure. And what do you mean? Okra is the best! I actually prepared a post about Okra but I just haven’t published it yet.


Kristen @ Motherese September 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Oh, man, does that sound good. We’re actually ordering Indian take-out tonight and now I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stop salivating before Husband returns from work, assorted curries and paneers in hand. Yummy, yum, yum


Pam September 27, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Great with the veggie whisperer! And this dish is unique, it sounds delicious!


Pam September 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

LOL!!! I am cracking up!!!! Your hamster story below is hysterical!!! Funny story and you really know how to write!!!!!!!!!!!!! Glad it turned out well.


Maria September 27, 2010 at 7:02 pm

You know about my recent and passionate love affair with curry…and I do love me some zucchini….Gosh, Kitch, I love you for posting this…I will have to try it this week…


Leslie September 27, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Looking at that picture, for a second I could swear I smelled the curry (if Twinkle hadn’t already come home to roost, maybe this would have lured him into the kitchen?).


Jane September 27, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I wish I loved curry – because that picture alone is mouthwateringly delicious!


Cathy September 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm

This actually appeals to me. I must try it out, but in the meantime, come over to my place and check out how you have one lovely blog.


Gibby September 28, 2010 at 5:10 am

Hhhhmmm….I guess this kicks my boring grilled zukes up a notch!


SuziCate September 28, 2010 at 5:36 am

Hmmm…I’ve never thought of making zukes and squash with Indian spices. I’ve always used my no fail rosemary and garlic…time to step out of my comfort zone! Thanks.


Bonnie September 28, 2010 at 11:19 am

This sounds good and I’m going to try it using some of the 557 pounds of zucchini that my friends and neighbors have recently dropped off. Even though I’m from the south, the only okra that I’ve liked (actually really liked) was prepared by an Indian friend in a stir-fry.



Belinda September 28, 2010 at 11:51 am

This is a vegan dish, no? It’s good-looking and I’d love to make it, though son is not yet a curry fan. I am half-committing to a pact husband and I made called OperationAsia — an attempt to shed a few lbs for a trip in late fall. My plan is to eat mostly vegan or vegetarian from now on so I’ll be scouring your archives for no-meat dishes.

Thanks for being such a resource for me (and many others). You’ve inspired many of my meals. Thought it might be nice for you to know that :-).


Biz September 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Love the combination of flavors in this dish – I smiled when you called your MIL the veggie whisperer! :D

I just made roti for the first time over the weekend – I love it!


velva September 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Poor zucchini, it would not have such an image problem if it would be the gift that would stop giving at the end of the season. Eggplant is it’s sister.

I really like this flavor combination. The coconut milk, cashews and cilantro too. This is a dish that is packing some flavor. I wish I had veggie magic.


Contemporary Troubadour September 28, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Genius! I’ve been so bored with zucchini from LAST summer’s glut that I haven’t bought a single one this year! I may have to snag a few to try this out.


Emily Z September 29, 2010 at 8:39 am

Mmmm, this sounds unique and delicious! This is definitely something to try!


Rudri September 29, 2010 at 4:55 pm


We love South Indian food. Even though my family is from North India, we think South Indian food has more pizzazz and taste. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!


Paula September 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Cilantro and cashews? Oh my goodness–that would make anything taste good. I love Indian food but don’t make it much myself. Guess I just need more good recipes like this one.


Rebecca October 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

I just made this tonight and it was really delicious. I have never seen yellow squash here (Tanzania) until today. I came across one the size of a watermelon! So I used that in addition to zucchini. It was really nice – color like butternut squash but texture and delicate like a yellow squash.

I think that coconut milk and curry are the secrets for getting any vegetable into my daughters mouth, so this goes on the list! Thanks.


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