Courgette and Potato Masala

It was Indian Independence day this week, and what a great excuse to celebrate that wonderful and amazing country than with a Masala. Masala is basically a mixture of dried and fresh herbs and spices, any combination really, but classic ingredients include cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to start with.

 Every home kitchen and restaurant has their own special blend   of spices. For some there will be the aroma of lots of freshly ground pepper, others will have a hit of chilli. Everytime, everywhere, it will be different. And I love that difference.

For years I used to avoid eating anything in restaurants with a tag line of Masala, simply because they were dull, overly oily, the vegetables overcooked, and frankly disappointing. I hadn’t realsied how delicious it could be if you made it at home where you get to choose and cook it using fresh ingredients. A good Masala needs to be fresh, so make it the same day of use.

Courgette and Potato Masala

I took my original inspiration from Das Sreedharan, and adapted and tweaked it.  It is a classic Masala mix, and the proportions can be varied, added to or taken away from. Courgettes aren’t generally used in Indian cooking, but I think they are very adaptable, and work well with a light masala sauce.  I use early maincrop potatoes in this dish, as they have a soft buttery flavour and they need very little cooking,

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods, split
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped very finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes chopped into chunks
  • 3 large potatoes, diced and par-boiled for 5 minutes
  • 2 courgettes or summer squash sliced or diced
  • Squeeze of lemon juice – approx 1 tblsp
  • 2 tblsp chopped coriander

Spice paste –

  • 4 tblsp yoghurt
  • 1tsp tomato puree
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground  turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Method –

  • Make the spice paste – place yoghurt in a bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients in. Set aside
  • Heat the oil in a large pan, add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, fennel seeds, shallots, and garlic and ginger
  • Cook gently for about 5 minutes  until the shallots are soft and cooked
  • Add the tomatoes, and spicy yoghurt paste
  • Add 1/2 a pint of water and bring the mixture to the boil, the dish may need more added if the liquid starts getting too thick
  • Stir in the vegetables, cover and cook (reduce the heat) for about 10 minutes, maybe more if the veg are older or not as fresh, until they are tender
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle 1/2 tsp more of garam masala into the pan and stir
  • Squeeze some lemon juice and stir
  • Serve with the chopped coriander sprinkled on top

Variations and notes ~

  • Add peppers, carrots, peas, green beans – whatever is in season and is fresh
  • You can always add a chopped green chilli towards the end or for serving
  • The sauce is meant to be thick and cling to the vegetables, I add a little water at a time, until I get the consistency I’m looking for.
  • I served it with Green Bean Thoran and a Lemon Rice

Gardening notes ~

  • I used a mixture of Yellow and Cavili Courgettes, Crookneck Squash
  • The potatoes were a mixture of 2nds and early maincrops – Ratte, Belle De Fontenay and Mayan Gold
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