I am frequently stumped by Indian vegetable side dishes. You know, dishes that do not take much effort as they are there for health and color but are complementing dishes that take much more time and effort. Then I got Monica Bhide‘s Modern Spice for Christmas. Her vegetable chapter is a treasure trove of exactly the kind of recipes I am always looking for.
So for this year’s big Indian feast with my in-laws, I made Bhide’s Pan-Fried Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Cumin, albeit changing it up a bit (and hence leading to a different name). While the dish was not the star or even the co-star of the meal, it was the perfect complement to those richer, protein-heavy dishes.
1 T vegetable oil
1 T ghee (for a less special occasion, use all vegetable oil if you prefer)
1 1/2 t dark mustard seeds
1 1/2 t cumin seeds
1 small-medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini, diced
2 medium yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 t ground turmeric
red chile pepper flakes, to taste (or heat tolerance–I used a pinch)
salt to taste
juice of half a lemon
chopped cilantro leaves to garnish
Heat the oil and ghee in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and fry until they turn grey and pop. While they are popping, add the cumin seeds (which burn faster than the mustard seeds and hence need to be added later).
When the mustard seeds are done popping and the cumin seeds are darkened and fragrant (but not burnt), add the onion and fry until darker and somewhat caramelized, about 10 minutes. Then add the zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper. Fry over high heat for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the turmeric and chile pepper flakes and cook for another minute, until the spiced are well incorporated into the vegetables.
Sprinkle with some salt, the lemon juice and cilantro leaves, then taste for more salt or lemon juice. Serve immediately.