I had a rather large zucchini leftover from a bunch I bought for other purposes and, being left home alone for the past few weeks while my wife is away, I decided to play around a little. A first, I thought I might do a pickle of some sort based on a minted vinegar (and I still plan to do so sometime), but then I decided to do something spicy in a vaguely Indian type of preparation that could be used as a side condiment, or even a ‘bread and butter’ type accompaniment.
Now, I will say at the outset that, though the result of this experiment was pretty, I did find that some tweaking is necessary. Accordingly, if you are inclined to play around with the basic idea yourselves, you may wish to read my notes at the end of this post…
The Ingredients Used
- 1 medium Zucchini;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 tsp. each Coriander and Black Mustard Seeds;
- 1 tsp. each Turmeric and powdered Fenugreek Seed;
- 1 – 2 tbsp. minced Ginger;
- 3 tbsp. coarsely chopped Garlic;
- ½ cup Vegetable Oil;
- 3 tbsp. Vinegar;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar.
Slice the zucchini into ½ inch thick rounds and toss with the salt. Leave this to macerate in a bowl for thirty minutes or so and then pour off the accumulated water and pat the slices dry. Next, lightly oil a grill or ridged grill pan and lightly grill the slices on each side until nicely grill-marked.
Toast and then grind the coriander and mustard seeds and mix with the turmeric and powdered fenugreek
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over a moderate flame and then add the spice mixture. When the oil froths and the aroma rises, add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute or so until the garlic has softened.
Finally, Add the vinegar and sugar to the oil along with the zucchini slices and continue to stir until most of the steam from the vinegar has stopped rising. Allow the mixture to cool and then transfer to a suitable receptacle. You can chill in the refrigerator if you like but you will need to allow the pickle to come back to room temperature before serving.
As I mentioned, the end result here wasn’t bad at all but there were some things I would change…
First, a little more vinegar tang would have been nice. I originally planned to use a ¼ cup but changed it to 3 tablespoons only when I was actually doing the cooking. I think my first instinct was probably the better one.
Another issue I had is that I really didn’t need so much oil. Certain Indian pickles are quite oily as a good cover of oil helps preserve whatever is being pickled for long periods. That really isn’t an issue here. Part of the problem was that I made my estimate based on the volume of the fresh zucchini and didn’t make any allowance for this diminishing during the cooking process. I think a third as much oil (and consequently only half of the spice mix) would do the job and I think I might simply just toss the grilled zucchini slices in the cooled oil rather than adding them to the pot.
Lastly, though the balance of flavors was quite nice there was a slight background bitterness that marred the result a little (although not horribly by any means). The culprit may have been the mustard but I rather think I was the powdered fenugreek. In a future attempt, I would probably use (small) fenugreek seeds and add these and the mustard seeds to the oil without grinding them.
Oh… I also planned to add a little chopped red chili to this and I had a jar of salted chili on the counter ready to use. Unfortunately, I forgot to add it and I can’t now say whether this would have been an improvement or not….