Monday, February 10, 2014

Fridge-Cleaner Gravy with Secret Ingredient, Oil-Free

The other day, my friend S came over for lunch. We had decided earlier to make it fuss-free so we decided on pasta. I cooked the pasta and she brought the sauce. Her sauce smelt good, exactly like the soup sachets from the US I used to ask my folks to bring me now and then. When I mentioned it to her, she began telling me how she made it.

 "Tomatoes, secret ingredient, vegetable stock, ..." she started. I stared at her but she looked like she did not even notice my staring at her. "What?" I said, a little taken aback. "Secret ingredient, stock, ..." she went on, but I interrupted.

 "You won't tell me what the secret ingredient is?" I said, hoping my voice was not going hoarse with incredulousness. Could she be witholding something so simple from me? I had only heard of people witholding recipe secrets, but did they really do it? Even as I was saying it, she said, "I'll tell you what it is after you eat it, I want you to guess."

I named a vegetable, because that was what I had used myself sometime the previous week to thicken a gravy.

"Nonsense," she said, waving her hand dismissively. We then took the food to the table and even after a couple of tries, I could not guess what it was. She then revealed it to me and all I will say is that it was a cousin of the vegetable I had myself used. I will leave it to her to start her own blog and reveal her secret ingredient, but mine is zucchini.

What happened was that I had very few vegetables besides potatoes and peas. I also had a stump of yellow zucchini (or was it green, but it doesn't matter). I didn't want to eat any more takeaway, or go out to eat, so I was bent on finding something to eat at home. I wanted to make it oil-free just for the challenge. I already have some oil-free recipes on my blog, this and this, but I wanted something else.

I wanted something wholesome. I was bummed that the bulk of it would have to be potatoes, as those were the vegetables I had in the largest quantity, but I was concerned about the fat aspects of them. Other than that, I had precisely one tomato, one shallot, half a zucchini, and some peas. I had no idea how to give bulk to the curry other than crush some potatoes.

But then I had a brainwave and decided to use the zucchini, grated.

Here's how to make a fulfilling oil-free gravy, then! And guess what? It's also grindless, if you use pre-ground ginger and garlic.

Potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, cut into medium-sized pieces – 3, medium size
Shelled peas – 1 cup

Zucchini, grated - 1 cup
Cumin - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 2 tsp 
Shallot - 1-2, minced
Tomato – 1 medium, chopped 
Green chilli – 2 (I used a bit of red chilli paste since I had that)
Turmeric – a pinch
Salt – to taste
Tamarind - 3 small pieces

Water: 1/2 cup
Garam masala/Curry powder – to taste (Optional)

Coriander - to garnish

Note: I made those other oil-free curries a long time ago and they were different, so my recipe/method here is by trial, error, estimate and guess work. So it will be idiosyncratic and inexact.

Heat a pressure pan and put the cumin in. Once it begins to darken, add the shallot and the zucchini and saute.  You have to watch it as you do, because it can get burnt very easily.

Once it begins to change,  add the green chillies and ginger garlic paste. This is an advantage because finally there is some moisture in the pan. Saute this too.

Add the tomato and mix it well with the onion-zucchini and ginger garlic paste mix. Let it cook for a while till the tomatoes get mushy. Add the turmeric.

Add the potatoes and peas and mix well to coat with the gravy in the pan. Add the tamarind, salt, garam masala and pressure cook it for 5-7 minutes or for 3-4 whistles. You can even sprinkle the garam masala later, after opening the pressure cooker. Open the pressure cooker only after the pressure drops. If you're in a hurry, put it under a running tap till the pressure falls. Close the tap, check the weight to see if the pressure has all gone and then open it.

Garnish with fresh coriander.

You can make this curry in an ordinary pan too. It will take more time.



  1. Great idea. Zucchini leaves so much liquid and you wouldn't even be able to taste it when it is mashed! Simple vegetables like this is something I like to eat most at home.

    1. Yes, as I grow older and so does my tummy, the importance of simplicity can't be understated!

  2. I am always attracted by these fancy post titles....recipe sounds interesting...oil less makes it worth trying...

    1. Thanks, Lubna, and do give it a try!

  3. S, the secret ingredient, a lot of people do it. i'm afraid to get any recipe from some family members because i think an ingredient or two maybe missing. and my sister never shares a recipe. she insists i stand next to her and watch if i want to know how it is made.

    1. S wasn't really holding out. We always play these guessing games with each other, like when I made the green pea dessert, she simply couldn't guess.

  4. S, i know close family members who won't give exact quantities and who won't share recipes. some will leave out an ingredient and i now almost never ask them for a recipe. i've found that it changes every time you ask.

  5. Whaaat? Now even you won't tell us her secret ingredient ? Also when not adding oil, are we to just add cumin to the bare pressure pan ? Is the intention to toast it and then add potatoes?

    1. Arre baba, I have revealed it. And yes, bare pan, toasting.

  6. I love Zucchini , we call it here Courgettes :-) Even though we use them never tried indian way till few weeks back and we loved it. Thus dish looks yumm. I am curious what the secret ingridient is.

    1. Finlaaaaa, read the post, I have revealed it.

  7. What a tease! I re-read your post, but still couldn't find the secret ingredient. Distant cousin of zucchini - dudhi? red pumpkin?

    1. ET, my secret ingredient is zucchini, my friend's is, well, one of the things you mentioned. What I meant was, I will reveal my secret ingredient, not hers. :-D

    2. Still such a tease. :) Oh well, I'll go buy a soup sachet.

  8. Always love the mishmash kind of mixed veggies sabzis.
    I don't know about secret ingredients but when ever I cook potatoes like this, I mash the cooked potatoes a little ... mushes up real quick. :)


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