Due to the unseasonable warmth of the last few weeks, Portland gardens and our surrounding farms are still producing end-of-summer treats like zucchini, chiles, and tomatoes. It makes for a nice transition into the upcoming season of tea and fires and hearty soups. In addition to this recipe, featuring late-season zucchini, be on the lookout for my next post about chile relleno casserole, which features fresh, late-season chiles and special occasion quantities of cheese.
Recently, I was looking to make Indian food. Warming spices like coriander, garam masala, and cinnamon always make me feel right with the world, and butter chicken – or chicken makhani – is our household’s usual fix for that craving. I had a whole chicken, but didn’t feel like defrosting it (we don’t have a microwave) and roasting it. Our garden was still giving out the last of its zucchini, and plenty of it, so I invented zucchini makhani. Well, likely I didn’t invent it, but a quick internet search revealed no recipes for it, so for now we’ll just pretend.
It’s a simple process. Dice zucchini into bite-sized pieces and marinate them in a plastic bag with yogurt, peppers, and spices. Cook them in a delicious, creamy tomato sauce with more veggies, spices, ghee, and coconut milk or cream. Eat it over rice.
I did an omnivorous ingredient mashup here – raw homemade grassfed cow’s milk yogurt and ghee, because I nearly always have them on hand, and coconut cream, because I like the taste. And obviously zucchini instead of chicken, and a couple of extra vegetables. It was just the ticket to comfort and warmth on a chilly evening.
Ah, chilly evenings, the heart and soul of my heart and soul. I love you.
…Oh, the recipe.
1/2 C whole milk yogurt or coconut yogurt
1/2 t each turmeric, cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder, paprika, celtic sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium-hot chile peppers, diced
2 lbs diced zucchini or other summer squash
1/4 C grassfed ghee
2 onions, sliced thinly
2 T minced ginger
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 C shelled or frozen green peas
1 quart canned tomatoes
1 pint plain tomato sauce
1 C coconut cream, or whole milk
1 t garam masala
1 t chili powder
1 t coriander powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch fenugreek powder
2 T celtic sea salt, or to taste
Basmati rice, cooked and kept hot
Combine the yogurt and spices with a whisk. Add the peppers and zucchini in a gallon-sized ziploc bag, mix everything, and refrigerate.
In a large skillet, melt half the ghee over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions, and once they soften, reduce the heat to medium-low and let them cook until browned and smelling heavenly. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one minute more, until the smell almost sends you over the edge and you start eating from the pan. Pour in the peas and cook until they’re heated through, then add the zucchini and contents of the marinade. Turn the heat back to just over medium, add the spices, and cook until fragrant, adding more ghee to the pan to prevent sticking and infuse the dish with that familiar, irreplaceable flavor.
Mush the tomatoes with your hands, and pour them in the skillet along with the tomato sauce, stirring until the sauce bubbles a bit. Turn down the heat, add whatever creamy component you’re working with, heat it through, and remove the pan from the heat.
Adjust the seasonings, if necessary, and serve hot over basmati rice.