This may not be a typical Valentine’s Day dinner, but it IS sooooooooo good. It’s from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking.
Madhur Jaffrey is to Indian food what Julia is to French food. Madhur is a fine cook who also happens to be a beautiful movie star. Maybe that's what gives her those excellent communication skills in teaching western cooks (and I’m sure many South Asian ones as well) the fabulous Indian food of her childhood.
Email me for the original recipe, this is my version.
Madhur Jaffrey’s and My Zucchini Meatballs
2 zucchini (1 lb), grated
1 1 inch piece ginger
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 small onion
1 handful fresh coriander
1/3 cup flour
5 tbls. olive or vegetable oil for frying
2 medium onions
¼ tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. or so cayenne
2 tsps. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
2 tomatoes, minced
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cumin seeds, roasted and ground (see note)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional for garnish: ½ raw cashews, toasted
Grate the zucchini in a food processor. Put in a colander over a bowl and mix with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. You’ll be using the zucchini juice.
With the steel blade, mince the 2 medium onions for the sauce and remove from food processor and set aside.
Mince the ginger and jalapeno for the meatballs in the food processor. Add the small onion and fresh coriander and process until finely minced. Place in medium bowl.
Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the zucchini. Really squeeze! Make up to one cup with water. Set liquid aside. Add the grated zucchini to the onion and ginger mixture. Stir in flour and mix well.
Divide mixture into 16 balls. I divide it into 4 piles and then make 4 balls from each.
Heat oil in small nonstick frying pan or wok over medium heat. . (I like the wok because I can use less oil and it’s deeper because of the small circumference of the bottom. Got that?)
Fry 8 balls at a time, for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. Remove to paper towel lined plate. (Remember my tip of just using paper towels on the top layer? The bottom can be newspaper.) Fry second batch. Drain. (You’re welcome to deep fry these, if you wish.) Reserve cooking oil.
For the sauce, in a medium sauté pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of the cooking oil over medium low heat. Stir in the 2 minced onions and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. The onions should start to brown at the edges.
Add the turmeric, cayenne, cumin and coriander. Stir over lowest heat for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir over medium low heat for 3 minutes. Add one cup zucchini juice. Bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 6 to 7 minutes. Make in advance up to this point.
Add the cream, garam masala and roasted ground cumin if using. Simmer for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Handling the zucchini meatballs very gently (they’re fragile), add them to the pan. Coat with sauce and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes until hot. If sauce gets too thick, thin it with a bit of vegetable stock. Serve with basmati rice.
The roasted and ground cumin is the heart of this dish. You too will fall in love with cumin prepared this way.
Roast the seeds in a cast iron pan over medium heat until they begin to smell toasty. Cool slightly and grind them in a coffee grinder. They add a nutty roasted full flavor to the sauce.
BUT, if you can’t manage this extra step, make this dish anyway and just add leave out the extra cumin. It’s still fantastic.