This zucchini epitomises the best of Indian home-style cooking, simply spiced and freshly made. You will never find this kind of vegetable sabzi on a typical Indian restaurant menu, it’s far too simple and homely. It uses the Bengali five spice mix panch phoron, a mixture of – cumin, fennel, fenugreek, nigella and mustard seeds. You can mix your own panch phoron but any half way decent spice shop will have it ready made and, as they are whole spices it is a mix that keeps well, so there doesn’t seem to be that much need to make your own.
This Bengali style sabzi can be adapted to a range of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, pumpkin or cabbage can all be sauteed in panch phoron, covered and cooked gently in their own juices then finished with the sweet and sour accent of amchoor ( green mango powder) and a dash brown sugar to balance out the sourness. Serve with rice, dal a simple yogurt raita and you’ve got dinner nailed.
Bengali zucchini sabzi
Adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen
- 3-4 medium sized zucchini (courgette) chopped into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) cubes ( about 4 cups)
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons panch phoron
- 2 whole red chillies fresh or dried
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt ( to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar – brown, jaggery or rapadura
- 1 teaspoon of amchoor or lemon juice
- Heat oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot add panch phoran, when mustard seeds pop ad whole red chilli stir, then add tumeric, chilli powder, salt and zucchini. Toss zucchini in spiced oil, turn heat to medium low, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until zucchini begins to soften and release its juices.
- Uncover, turn up heat and stir fry zucchini for a few minutes until zucchini is tender but not mushy. Add sugar, amchoor and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, the sweet, sour and salt. Remove from heat and serve immediately.