Zucchinis are very easy to grow, and when the plants are producing, you don’t get one or two fruits, but rather bushels of them. What do you do with all these zucchinis?  Here is a Masala Zucchini recipe that raises the humble zucchini to a thing of beauty, infusing the otherwise bland fruit with exotic spices and a tantalizing balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet.

This recipe serves 3 to 4 people as a side dish.

The five central spices (available at any South Asian grocery) combine to make a spice mix called panch phoran – literally, “five seeds.” Most are fairly common spices, but if you need to go out and shop for nigella be warned that it is frequently sold, rather unhelpfully, as “onion seed.” It’s actually not the seed of an onion, but a relative of the garden flower Love in a Mist. Ask your grocer for “kalonji,” and they will know what you mean. It is such a common spice in Indian cuisine that you may find it sold in bulk at the right shops. In any event, it is essential to this recipe and worth every bit of trouble tracking down.

2 medium sized zucchinis, halved lengthways and chopped into 1cm (1/2“) pieces
15mL (1 Tbsp) vegetable oil
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) cumin seed
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) nigella seed
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) fennel seed
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) black mustard seed
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) fenugreek seed
3 whole dried chilies
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) red chili powder
1.75mL (1/4 tsp) turmeric powder
5mL (1 tsp) sea salt
2.5mL (1/2 tsp) amchoor powder (mango powder)
5mL (1 tsp) sugar or honey
5mL (1 tsp) lemon juice

Heat oil over medium-high in a flat-bottom frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the cumin, nigella, fennel, black mustard, fenugreek, and dried chilies. After 30 seconds, add the red chili powder and turmeric, then add the zucchini pieces and stir to coat. Lower heat to medium and cover, cooking for 2 minutes. Add salt, stir, cover, and cook for another 2 minutes. Then stir and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. You want the zucchini to be cooked, but not mushy. Stir to evenly expose all the pieces to the heat. Turn off the heat, and add the sugar or honey, amchoor powder, and lemon juice. Stir gently and serve.