In the past years the vegetable courgette, which is also globally known as zucchini, has been introduced into the Indian market. A handful of common vegetable vendors sell it here in Goa and one place where you can purchase this delicious versatile summer squash is in the recently modified, well known Mapusa market. Organic produce is usually sold by the local market women, and since courgette is rather a new vegetable here, you won’t see the local ladies selling this particular vegetable. Therefore, to come across organic courgette is rather difficult. Luckily a known foreigner here has been successfully growing and selling his organic produce in North Goa and I regularly purchase the products from Ambrosia farms. Organic vegetables are most of the time 10 – 20 INR more expensive but that has changed a lot since we have been experiencing high inflation of food prices in the Indian subcontinent, so at the end of the day it makes sense to buy a pure organic courgette.
Because I grew up eating frequently dishes made with courgette, I made an attempt to introduce this vegetable to my husband. Most of the time he was just ok with the dish flavors. I wanted to show him how spectacular courgette could taste and for that I had to modify the typical European flavors so to come up with new fusion style dishes a la India. I suppose you are not surprised by that, right? Also, family and friends had asked me in the past how they could possibly use this vegetable in their meal planning. On the one hand, a westerner might have no clue on how to use a ridge gourd, on the other hand an Asian is missing knowledge on how to use a courgette in a dish. I am not trying to point out a stereotype here, it’s just common sense that Goan locals, who have never used a barely known vegetable here, will feel confused about the courgette preparation.
Anyway,… So I was fixing flavors and trying dishes again and again when this superb spicy creamy courgette gratin with cheese came to be. Courgette gratin is a popular baked side dish in France, which is commonly seasoned with herbs such as thyme and finished with a cheesy, or breadcrumbs/egg, crunchy “grilled” layer. The top layer should be golden and if you reheat it, the flavors turn out better. Normally I make the double amount of gratin, so that I have some left for the days to come because I believe a reheated/ grilled (top heat in the oven) dark golden gratin tastes even better then a freshly made light colored gratin. By the way my gratin in the picture was cooked once, so feel free to bake yours more golden dark.
Various type of gratins are common, including different vegetables such as potato, spinach and cauliflower. You can expect more quick and simple gratin side dishes here in the future, no matter if real classics such as the gratin dauphinois or similar spiced gratins such as this tasty spicy creamy courgette gratin with cheese.
- 500 grams courgette (zucchini)
- 200 milliliter fresh cream
- ½ Teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin Powder
- pinch Turmeric Powder (haldi) – optional
- about 100 grams mild grated Cheddar Cheese
- Salt according to your taste
- Pepper according to your taste
- To prepare a courgette is very quick and easy. You don’t have to peel the vegetable as long as you wash it well, but if you don’t know if your courgette was treated with pesticides, then you might want to peel the courgette, just to be save. I use organic naturally grown courgette, so no peeling is required. Cut off both courgette ends and discard the parts. Slice your courgette thin.
- Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius.
- In a mixing bowl combine the fresh cream, chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder (optional), half amount of the cheddar cheese (so, 50 grams only), salt and pepper and mix the whole content well. Also add the cut courgette and make sure the vegetable pieces are well covered with the mixture.
- Grab an oven proof dish and pour/place/spread the spicy and creamy courgette mixture into it. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top so that it’s evenly covered.
- Place into the preheated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes at 200 Celsius.
- Serve hot as a side dish or as a light main dish.
Have you cooked with Zucchini in an unconventional way before?