Food

What to make with all your local zucchini: Mezhukkupuratti — a simple south Indian stir-fry

Grab some summer squash and try Joe Thottungal’s simple recipe STAT.

Grab some summer squash and try Joe Thottungal’s simple recipe STAT

(Photography by Christian Lalonde)

Pair this meatless summer dish with rice or any main that needs a worthy companion. The recipe for south Indian Mezhukkupuratti, which comes to us from Joe Thottungal’s cookbook Coconut Lagoon, is made from a mix of plantain, and, in lieu of ivy gourd, zucchini (time to put those local finds to use!). Drenched in aromatic spices, it’s the kind of dish that’s simple enough to make in a pinch, but still capable of elevating everything around it.

Mezhukkupuratti | മെഴുകുപുരട്ടി

By Joe Thottungal

Mezhukkupuratti is a traditional south Indian dish of stir-fried vegetables elevated with warm, fragrant spices. Prepared with green bananas or plantains (with the skin left on!), this simple dish makes an excellent side for any good meat curry, such as Beef Curry. Tindora, also known as ivy gourd or kovakka, is a tropical vine that grows abundantly in Kerala. If tindoras are unavailable, baby zucchini can be substituted. 

Ingredients

  • 12 (2 cups) tindoras or baby zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 3 (2 cups) unripe bananas or plantains, unpeeled and washed, cut into 3-inch batons
  • 4-6 Indian or Thai green chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 4 curry leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 dried red chiles, snapped in pieces
  • Basmati Rice, to serve

Basmati Rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp vegetable oil

Preparation

In a medium saucepan, combine tindoras (or baby zucchini), bananas (or plantains), green chiles, salt, and turmeric, and add 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside to steam-dry.

Have a splash guard and measured spices nearby. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Immediately reduce heat to medium. (You can test the heat of the oil by dropping in a couple of seeds. The oil is at the correct temperature when the seeds crackle, but do not burn.) Add mustard seeds and temper for a few seconds, until they stop popping. (Cover with the splash guard, if needed.) Transfer the mustard seeds to a large heavy-bottomed skillet.

Immediately add shallots, curry leaves, garlic, and red chiles and sauté for 2 minutes, until shallots have softened. Add the vegetables and mix well.

Serve warm with rice.

Basmati Rice:

Rinse rice well, at least 3-4 times, until the water runs clear. Put rice, salt, lemon juice, and oil in a large saucepan, add 4 cups water, and bring to a boil, stirring to prevent rice from sticking.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for another 8-10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff the grains with a fork. Serve immediately.

Yield: Makes 4 servings Mezhukkupuratti + 6 servings Basmati Rice


Excerpted from Coconut Lagoon (C) 2019 by Joe Thottungal. Photography (C) 2019 by Christian Lalonde. Reproduced by permission of Figure 1. All rights reserved.

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