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Chow Chow Poriyal | Chayote Coconut Stir Fry

Chayote is a low calorie vegetable which is a good source of folate, vitamin C and dietary fibre. It's not so popular when compared to other squash/gourd varieties. Though we use chayote squash as a vegetable, it's actually a fruit. It is often referred to as vegetable pear because of it's shape and pale green colour. In South India it is known by various names like chow chow or Bangalore kathrikka (in Tamil),  sheema kathrikka (in Malayalam), seema vankaya or Bengaluru vankaaya (in Telugu) and Seeme badanekayi (in Kannada). Chayote is mostly used in curries and stir fry's in South Indian cuisine.

Last week I had some guests for lunch and I had bought some chayote's (chow chow) for making kootu. I didn't end up making the kootu so was planing to make chow chow kootu for lunch this weekend. During a casual call with mom, she suggested to make chow chow poriyal (stir fry with coconut). Normally poriyal is made with mixing the steamed vegetable with coconut and tempered with mustard seeds, urad dal (split and dehusked black gram), asafoetida, green chillies and curry leaves. Since chayote has a very mild flavour, I thought poriyal would be boring and bland. But mom said this recipe is quite different from the normal poriyal recipes as we are going to roast and grind fresh spices to give more flavour to this stir fry.  Sounded different, so I thought to give a go. Mom's recipes never go wrong!

The freshly roasted spice blend of coriander seeds, roasted gram (pottukadalai) and dried red chillies paired well with the subtle sweetness of chow chow, lifting the flavours of this humble poriyal. This spice blend can also be added to other vegetable poriyals to add a different taste. My grandma makes this spice blend with urad dal (split black gram) instead of roasted gram. As chayote has a slight sweet flavour, I used 4 dried red chillies to have that extra kick of spice. So adjust the amount of red chillies depending on the spice level you can take in. The chow chow has to be cooked just enough so that retains the shape but is still soft. Since chow chow or chayote does not take much time to cook, I prefer to cook in a pan with a lid with very little water. You can also steam it or pressure cook for 1 whistle.

I loved eating this stir fry just like that because it is so delicious!!! We had the chow chow poriyal with drumstick (murungaikkai) sambar, appalam, fried bittergourd (pavakkai) chips and yogurt. Yum! This poriyal does not take much time to prep and cook, so makes a healthy and quick side dish for sambar / kuzhambu (curries). This is a no-onion no-garlic recipe, ideal to make on festival or vrat (fasting) days. Also check out my chow chow kadalai paruppu kootu recipe.



2 medium-size chayote / chow chow
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

For the spice blend:
4 dried red chillies
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp roasted gram / pottukadalai

To temper:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp split white urad dal
1/4 tsp asafoetida / hing / perungayam
Few curry leaves

3 tbsp grated coconut
Salt to taste


1. Peel the skin of chow chow and cut into half. Remove the seed and chop into small cubes.

2. In a pan add the chow chow, turmeric powder, salt and 1/4 cup water. Cover with a lid and cook in low heat until the vegetable is soft.

3. In a small pan, fry the dried red chillies, coriander seeds and roasted gram for about 2 minutes. Cool and grind to a coarse powder.

4. Heat a pan with coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When it pops add the dried red chillies urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and fry till dal turns golden.

5. Add the chow chow, coconut, ground spice powder, salt if required and mix well to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Notes and Tips:

Adjust the amount of dry red chillies according to your spice preference.
Make sure the chow chow is not over cooked, otherwise it will turn into a mush.
The spices should be roasted just enough to warm them and you start getting the nice aroma.
If you want to add garlic, add 2 minced garlic after the tempering.
You can add 1 tsp urad dal instead of roasted gram.


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