This was one of the first dishes I learned how to make, and to this day it is one of my all-time favorites and most beloved by my friends and family. My best friend growing up was from Pakistan, and lucky for us her mother used to make this spicy green masala on a regular basis. Lucky for me I was considered their adopted daughter since I basically lived in their house through my high school years, so I got to eat a lot of this, along with all of her mother’s other amazing Pakistani specialties.
One day my friend and I decided to get the exact recipe so we could make it ourselves when we went away to college. We got a pad of paper and pen and hovered over her mother while she cooked, writing down everything as she added each ingredient, making sure not to miss a single spice…or secret! To our surprise, it was much simpler to prepare than we had imagined, and what makes it so unique and tasty is nothing other than good ol’ cilantro. The original dish had chicken but over the years I have perfected my own vegetarian version, with a few other tweaks as well. The recipe calls for a small amount of yogurt so it is not vegan, but you could use vegan yogurt, or perhaps some coconut milk instead, or just leave the yogurt out all together.
Traditionally this is served with roti. In my best friend’s house “roti” was Mission brand tortillas, which I always thought was funny, but now from what I understand they are pretty much the same thing. In addition to roti, I also serve this with some millet (not traditional, but it goes well with this dish, and with all the concern about arsenic with rice I try not to eat too much of it) or another grain such as farro or quinoa.
- 2 tablespoons oil (olive or canola work well)
- 1 onion, chopped in large pieces
- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 green chili peppers (such as jalapeno or Serrano), chopped*
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin (I use coriander usually though since my husband doesn’t like cumin)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 bunch of cilantro, washed well
- About 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon yogurt
- Two zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 cups chickpeas, canned or made from scratch
- Juice of one lime
- Heat oil in a large sauce pan or wok-style pan over medium heat. When hot, add onion, garlic, ginger and chili peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.
- Add turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper, and stir well to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, a couple of minutes longer.
- Remove from heat and slightly cool.
- Once cooled a bit add to blender along with the cilantro, two cups of vegetable broth and tablespoon of yogurt. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer mixture back to the same pan and add up to one additional cup of vegetable broth.**
- Bring to a boil and lower the heat to medium low so that the masala is just simmering.
- Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes, and then add chopped zucchini and chickpeas.
- Cover again and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the curry is a dark green color and the zucchini is well cooked. Cook an additional five minutes or so, uncovered.
- Finish with a squeeze of lime and serve hot!
- * Chilis vary in spiciness so taste them to know how spicy they are before using. Two spicy chilis will make this dish very hot. I omit them, along with the black pepper, when making for my babies and toddler, and just add chopped jalapeños on top for my husband and me when serving.
- ** The consistency of this masala is supposed to be watery, like a soup, but it is really a matter of preference. Add more or less broth depending on what you like. It will thicken a little after cooking for a while, but not very much (if you want it to thicken more you could add potatoes in addition or instead of the zucchini).