The cuisine of India has long been a favourite of mine. The best part of living in Canada is that we’re exposed to so many cultures and each culture shares the uniqueness of their food with everyone.
When I was vegetarian for half of the 90s, I ate a lot of dishes based on Indian cuisine. They have many creative dishes incorporating legumes and rice which, when eaten together, compose a complete protein which can be a concern with some vegetarians because of the division of essential amino acids in legumes and grains.
When I was shopping for vegetables yesterday at the market I picked up a couple of beautiful patty pan squash. Like their other summer squash cousin, the zucchini (courgette), it can be eaten raw when it’s relatively small. The patty pans that I picked up were just at the cusp of being small enough to be eaten raw. Roughly, the diameter of a baseball, and half as high, I thought I’d put it in a traditional Indian Raita instead of using grated cucumber and if the patty pan squash was just a little firm, the acidity of the yogurt would tenderize it.
Along with the patty pan raita, I wanted to use more wonderfully fresh vegetables: sliced snow peas, two colours of tomatoes, yellow for sweetness and purple-red for the sharpness. I also wanted chickpeas and lentils as a sign of respect for India and their inspiration while I nourished myself as a vegetarian all those years ago.
Patty Pan Squash Raita Salad
For the Patty Pan Squash Raita:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cold pressed canola oil
3 green onions, finely chopped, white and green parts separated
1 jalapeno pepper or other green chilli, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely grated patty pan squash
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
In a dry pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium high heat until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
In the same pan, add the oil, white parts of the green onions and jalapeno. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onion and jalapeno soften and just start to lightly brown. Set in a medium bowl to cool.
Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the grated patty pan squash and add it to the bowl with the softened onions and jalapeno. Add the yogurt, green parts of the green onions, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Grind the toasted cumin and coriander and stir into the mixture. Set aside in the fridge while preparing the salad vegetables.
For the salad:
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (I used two different varieties, but one is just fine)
3/4 cup snow peas, sliced into 1cm (1/2″) slices
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked lentils
Reserved Patty Pan Squash Raita
In a medium bowl, gently fold the tomatoes, snow peas, chickpeas, and lentils with the raita until uniformly combined. Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes. Serves 2 as a main dish salad or serves 4 as a side with naan bread.