Cabbage, Zucchini and Mung Bean Curry

Zucchini is the garden gift that just keeps giving.  What do you do after zucchini bread, grilled zucchini, zucchini pancakes, zucchini waffles and roasted zucchini baba ghanouj? Turn to Indian cuisine and make some zucchini curry.  This is a complete one-pot meal if paired with a bit of brown rice or chapati.  It features mung beans for protein and the earliest of the cabbages which are ready right now.  And despite the long ingredient list, the recipe comes together quickly, so fear not and cook curry!

Yield: 10 cups, 4-6 servings

What you need: 

  • 1 cup dry whole mung beans
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined sesame oil (NOT toasted, sunflower works too)
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground garam masala (store bought works fine here)
  • 1 teaspoon amchoor powder (green mango powder, this is a souring spice that can be found at most Indian groceries; it can be substituted with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or tamarind concentrate added to the stew toward the end, about the same time you’ll add the zucchini)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 fresh green chile, thinly sliced (optional but recommended)
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 cups unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 cups diced zucchini, 3/4″ or 1″ dice

What you do:

  1. Soak the mung beans overnight in enough water to cover by 4″ or so.  Drain and set aside.  If desired, they can be sprouted Indian-style prior to cooking.  To do that, place the drained, soaked beans in a large bowl lined with a damp tea towel (or damp cheese cloth, or a few layers of damp paper towels).  Fold the towel over the beans so they’re in the dark, and place them in a warm spot for another 8-14 hours until the beans split open a bit and a tiny tail barely begins to poke through.
  2. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the ground coriander, ginger, cumin, garam masala, amchoor and turmeric powders.  Add the pressed garlic: no need to mix again.
  3. Heat a 5L Dutch oven or thick-bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add the oil and let it get hot.  Add the mustard and cumin seed.  The mustard seeds should begin to pop almost immediately.  When they do, add the spice powder mix and garlic and stir and fry for a minute or three, until the spices loose their “raw” smell and everything goes a shade darker.
  4. Add the shredded cabbage and stir to coat in the spices, another minute or two.
  5. Deglaze the pan with a cup of the crushed tomato, scraping the spices from the bottom with a wooden spatula or spoon.
  6. Add the rest of the crushed tomatoes, the water and the drained mung beans.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the beans are cooked through but not yet falling apart, about 35-40 minutes depending on the age of the beans and how sprouted they are (the younger the bean, the faster it cooks; the more sprouted the bean, the faster it cooks).
  7. Uncover, add the salt and adjust to taste.  Add the zucchini and cover again.  Simmer another 10 minutes or so, until the zucchini is tender.
  8. Serve, garnished with fresh cilantro if desired.

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