Chow Chow (Chayote Squash) Curry
By DK on Mar 11, 2013
If you take time to notice, you will observe that most of South Indian dishes are epitome of simplicity, clean flavors with minimal seasoning. They are quick to make and extremely easy to put together. Its a budget cook's dream come true. There is practically no wastage with many other secondary uses of the "scraps". Watching older generation South Indian women cook is like sheer poetry. Uncomplicated and soothing to the palate and digestion.
Spotting the Chayote Squash (that I knew as "Chow Chow" while growing up) in the grocery aisle the other day, I couldn't help but think of my mom. Though our time zones are upside down between us, we keep close, food being a strong binder. I keep her presence close to me by cooking the food that she used to make for us while she keeps mine via checking out my blog :). She has always been my best critic and I believe that keeps me striving to best myself.
This simplest curry is all about clean flavors. Chayote is like any summer squash and is quite bland and watery tasting by itself. Here, this light seasoning along with coconut provides it with just right amount of flavor without overwhelming the squash itself. A common side dish in a South Indian's household with/without coconut.
adapted minimally from my mom's recipe
Prep Time: Under 15 min
Cook Time: Under 15 min
Serves: 2 people
- 2 med-large (abt 450 grams) Chayote Squash/Chow Chow
- 1/3 cup grated Coconut, see Tips
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Urad dal (split black gram)
- 1 dried Red Chilli (optional)
- 1/8 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/8 tsp Asafoetida powder
- Few Curry Leaves to garnish
- Salt to taste
Tips1. Coconut: Both frozen and fresh will work here. Also, if dietary restrictions apply, you can easily skip it in the recipe. My mother never made it with coconut.
Peel the squash. While the peel is edible, my mother never used it for this recipe and neither do I (habit?!). I instead opt to use the peels to make a chutney out of it for the same meal.
Cut it in the center and remove the seed.
Chop them into cubes.
Boil it in enough salted water to cover it. You can also steam if you prefer it. It takes about 5 minutes to get tender. Drain and set aside. (I usually add the leftover water to my rasam.)
While that's cooking on the side, heat up a skillet with 1 tsp Coconut oil (or any other oil of your choice). Add mustard seeds. When they finish popping, add the urad dal, asafoetida and red chilli (if using. I haven't used it.)
When the black gram starts browning, add the coconut. Stir it for few seconds (just enough to toast it and remove the raw taste).
Add the chayote to the tempered ingredients along with turmeric and curry leaves.
Give it a gentle mix until combined. Taste and season with salt if necessary given that you boiled them in salted water.
Serve hot. We enjoyed it with Pepper Rasam, Steamed rice and popadams.
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