Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zucchini chutney (watery)

In India food is a big deal. There are special foods for every occasion and I have met no one I mean back home who is not fond of eating. Mostly no one ate for the vitamins and minerals or the individual parts that made a whole. They ate for the taste and the joy of eating and sharing.

One thing we were particular about was having a time and place for eating. Noshing throughout the day was uncommon.

That was the first thing that caught my eye when I first came to the US. I was very surprised that people ate all the time. While driving, they munched on not just easy to eat with one hand kind of foods but even foods like chicken wings. Compared to the stuff that people do while driving these days eating is probably is one of the least offenses anyway. One other eating habit that shocked me was the constant munching that people did while working. Jars of candies, cookies and pretzels(I hate those) jostled for space on the desk.

In India eating is a communal affair even at work. Let's say a packet of potato chips was opened, it most definitely would be shared with everyone on the team. (Have things changed now?)

On the other hand in the US eating food has no such restrictions. It mostly is a lonely affair which perhaps is what encourages indiscriminate eating. I have never seen a society that is so conflicted about food and looks for benefits in everything they eat but still ends up eating the worst kinds of foods.

Why did I suddenly have these deep thoughts about the eating culture of the two countries? Two reasons.

1. Mark Bittman's article Is Junk Food Really Cheaper made the point that social acceptance of eating anything anytime is another reason for the indiscriminate eating and the whole array of problems it brings about.

2. The news that the inventor of Doritos passed away. The invention that ushered the snack age. Marion Nestle calls Doritos as the prototypical junk food born out of no natural ingredients but an array of engineered ingredients. Read the article here. Doritos you will all agree is the ultimate loner snack. Mostly because it is hard to share as they are addictive. The main reason I do not buy Doritos. My kids fight over them :(

I have lived in the US for a long time now that I have also learned some of the bad habits regarding food and eating. I was a junk eater even in India. The difference being they were home made with whole grains and not engineered ingredients. So I just took to the junk eating culture like a fish to water. Me who hardly gained an extra ounce with all that eating in India suddenly found it that it was not all that hard to pack on the pounds.

Now on to the recipe,
Ridge gourd was one vegetable I was not particularly fond of back home. My attitudes towards a lot of foods have changed since leaving home. Ridge gourd has gone through that cycle and when cooked this way is a great side for dosais or idlis or even mixed with rice. Ridge gourd is not available all the time but Zucchinis believe it or not makes a good substitute. My mother made it once and now I am a big time convert.

Zucchini Chutney
1. 2 Zucchini diced
2. 1/2 onion chopped
3. 1 tomato diced (optional)
4. 4-5 green chilies
5. a pinch of cumin and 1/4 tsp pepper coarsely ground
6. seasoning: few mustard seeds and curry leaves
7. salt to taste
8. 1 tsp ghee

1. In a pressure cooker add the ghee and when hot add the seasonings. Add the onions and green chilies and saute till the onions are soft and translucent
2. Mix in the cumin - pepper powder. Add the tomatoes if using and saute for a few minutes till they soften.
3. Add the zucchini and salt , close the pressure cooker and let cook for 2 whistles. If cooking on a stove top sprinkle a bit of water (1 tbsp or so) and let it cook till it completely soft and falls apart.
4. Cool and mash with a back of spoon.

Goes well with idli or dosai or mixed in with rice.


  1. I think boring work on the computer in independent cubicles ushered in all day eating. Eating at any random time of the day was not the norm even if you wanted to.
    At my first job there we would impatiently wait for the Tea/Coffee time so that we could go and eat and talk :)

  2. I love ridge gourd thogayal even more than the chutney - you can even use the skin for another distinctive thogayal. A couple of tbsp of dal , some coconut, tamarind and sheer bliss.

    I noticed the lonely eating in UK - no sharing, no talking, no echanging of recipes - nothing at lunch hour. Just solitary lunches at the desk or maybe a walk down to the nearest deli. was I glad to be back after 2 weeks when the lunchboxes are passed around, comments passed, potlucks arranged, ice cream ordered for everyone once a month...

  3. Delicious ....nice idea

  4. Here in belgium we don't have a wulture of eating while driving, they might eat a sweets/ or a biscuit etc.... but chicken i think a big no :-)
    Delicious looking chutny.

  5. Indo, nice post. We often keep having this discussion that much more junk food is available in packs, and more of the traditional junk food, earlier made only at home and a time-consuming process (all the sweetmeats, murukus), is now available commercially - there for the taking - and so people are putting on a lot of weight here too - definitely, i see more fat children now than before.
    As for lonely snacking - I don't know how scientific it is, but reading your post, I came up with an explanation - in our old office building, where there weren't as many cubicles, it was easier to share food - and people passing by would be invited to join in. Now we all have our own individual cubes, there are rows and not everyone passes by - so there's less sharing.

  6. This reminds me of gotsu... the way it looks that is... I make zucchini chutney too but a different recipe - have to try this.

    Indo, i wanted to ask you a qn as a first time gardener, i have quite a lot of tomatoes but they refuse to get ripe... is there something I can do to urge them to ripen? Thank you!

  7. My experience has been different. Some of us at work try to get together and eat at the same time in the kitchen area. However, sharing- as we knew it in India, is sorely missing. It's a cultural thing, I've decided.

    New recipe for me. Looks good.

  8. I agree, lonely eating, anytime eating and what not... the zucchini chutney looks good. I've had the ridge gourd version and quite like it :) Happy navratri

  9. wow, love this variety of zucchini chutney.

  10. Laavanya I chose the word chutney for a lack of a better word to describe it. It is neither a chutney or a kuzhambu but gotsu is the perfect word to describe.

    Are the tomatoes still on the plants? I usually pick the tomatoes when they are just about to ripen and leave them inside even during the summer.
    As the weather cools tomatoes take longer to ripen and sometimes they never do. Try bringing them inside and see if they will. If they don't you just have to use the green ones I guess. Sometimes they just don't ripen.

  11. Chutney looks awesome...

  12. Worst thing is that kids pick up that habit too Indo when they seen mom and dad do it(I am gaining all that gyan now!!) and may be thats why its a cycle..Potato chips-or crisps are always munched in UK all the time :(
    And golu is not the only thing thats guarded at home- we are living on countertops :) this guy can reach anything anywhere :)


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