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Appetizers

Watermelon curry

Watermelon curry
Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

I never learned to cook,” Geeta Bansal tells me. “I have none of those Padma Lakshmi stories about a spice box from my grandmother.” Of course, she’s talking about a couple lifetimes ago, back before she became the chef-owner of ... Read more

Total time: 60 minutes | Serves 4
  • 1 small watermelon, about 5 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon roughly ground coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 serrano chile, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Step 1Remove and discard the rind from the watermelon and cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes to make 3 cups (about 20 ounces), saving the trimmings. Place the trimmings (20 to 25 ounces) in a blender jar and blend to a pulpy mixture. You should have 2 to 2½ cups. Add any juice from the chopping board to the pulp.

Step 2In a wide sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the cumin seeds and sauté until browned and very fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook until golden, about 1 minute, but do not brown, then add the watermelon pulp, coriander seeds, chili powder and turmeric and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half and the color has deepened to a rust-orange tone, about 15 minutes.

Step 3Add the watermelon cubes, serrano chile, lemon juice and salt, to taste, and increase heat to medium. When the watermelon is heated through, 4 to 5 minutes, add the chopped cilantro. Serve hot with basmati rice tossed with cooked green peas, quinoa or fluffy couscous.

Note: Adapted from a recipe by chef-owner Geeta Bansal of the Clay Oven.

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