Some food, some drink.
Good Vegetarian Grilling is Not an Oxymoron: Grilled Garam Masala Zucchini with Curry Yogurt Sauce
Evolution has blessed the human race (in general) with the dentition and a stomach that can handle meats as well as veggies. As much as I love a thick steak or a juicy pork chop, there are times when I crave vegetables, and vegetables alone. I'm keen on the versatility of zucchini, and when I'm looking to get my fill, the grill is a great way to do it. By using a garam masala grill rub and then dressing with the subtle bite of a tangy yogurt-curry sauce, a simple side can be elevated to main-course status if the summer heat leaves your appetite insisting on satiation without the lethargy.
Hey, be sure to scope the how-to video companion episode to this post!
Garden production is in full-swing. The spot behind my fence is producing cucurbits like gangbusters, and that's awesome. For me, the fastest way to get my squash fix is to take it to the grill. Some folks might say that zucchini is a blank canvas, but I beg to differ. Although it's true that the flavor is mild, I think there's something complimentary in a zucchini's flavor that turns the taste buds up to eleven. Even though a grilled zucchini is perfectly fine seasoned simply, its flavor-boosting ability is a perfect vehicle for some of the more spicy and bold seasonings as well.
I don't discriminate with respect to cellular origin when it comes to grilling. I'm just as likely to throw a slab of meat on the grill as I am to char some vegetable or even bake a loaf of bread. If something tastes good, is also nutritious and is simple to prepare, well that's good enough for me. This recipe hits on all cylinders in the aforementioned regards. I concocted a simple garam masala-based spice rub to season a few young zucchini that I in-turn finished with a curried variant of my favorite go-to yogurt vegetable dip.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
Garam Masala Grill Rub
Yogurt Curry Sauce
For the Curry Yogurt Sauce, whisk together all your ingredients (simple, huh?).
For the Zucchini, preheat grill for high heat (around 450F). For each slice of zucchini, drizzle each side with olive oil and then sprinkle each side liberally with garam masala rub (you won't need it all). Grill for 3 - 4 minutes on each side, ensuring that there are plenty of sexy grill marks. Remove to a plate, drizzle with yogurt sauce and garnish with sliced tomato and fresh thyme.
- Make sure to use smaller, younger zukes here, as they are easy on the seeds.
- Choose a cut (lengthwise, on the bias, etc) that makes best use of the shape of your squash, just make sure that they're roughly three-quarters' of an inch thick.
- Even though we're seasoning our zucchini with olive oil, the starches that our slices will release when heat is applied will still have a tendency to want to stick to the grill. Make sure your grill grates are clean and well-lubed before adding the veg.
- While I'm sure a self-prepared garam masala would be best, All I had was some stuff from Teerghut (it ain't like rural Kansas is a hot bed of Indian cuisine). Just make sure it's fresh if it's already ground and mixed. Ditto for the madras curry powder.
- Not to be fussy, but if you can make the yogurt sauce at least 3 hours ahead, the flavors will be better-developed.
- The garam masala grill rub is phenomenal on meat as well. A generous sprinkling will elevate a simple sirloin to white-cloth napkin steakhouse status. The proportions provided make extra; but trust me, you may want to double it anyway.
A big selling point of this recipe (besides the fact that it tastes kick-ass) is how fast it all comes together. Minus the optional time for letting the yogurt sauce/dip flavors mingle. Two pounds of food is ready for consumption in less than twenty minutes. With all the knife work, sometimes it takes longer to put together a big salad. If quick and tasty isn't good enough for you, the economy oughtta be. If you happen to be growing your own zucchini and making your own yogurt, the rest of the ingredient list is pretty much comprised of pantry staples anyway. Pennies on the dollar for a dinner that's quite deluxe.
So, if it's so hot out that a trip to the butcher totally slips your mind, it's not a big deal. Grill one medium-sized squash per person, add some crusty bread, and pair with a tall glass of IPA for a light dinner that leaves room for dessert (maybe). With all the flavors mingling on the palate, you tend to forget the animal protein after the second beer anyway.