A specialty of the Indian state of Rajasthan, this delicious curry plays the sweet, juicy flesh of the watermelon against a complex background of chiles and spices. For a thicker curry, remove half of the cooked watermelon pieces, blend them to a pulpy consistency, and stir them back into the curry. This recipe is based on one that appears in 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer (Workman, 2008).
- 1 (3-lb.) piece seedless watermelon, rind left on
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. ajwain
- 1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1⁄2 tsp. nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
- 2 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 tsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish
- Steamed basmati rice
- Trim and discard the thin, dark green skin of the watermelon rind with a knife, leaving the inner, whitish-green rind intact. Separate the rind from the red flesh with the knife and cut both rind and flesh into 1″ pieces. Set aside in separate bowls.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ajwain, cumin, nigella seeds, and chiles and cook, swirling the pan, until spices are toasted and fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add watermelon rind, salt, and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until rind is lightly browned and liquid has almost evaporated, about 7 minutes.
- Pour 1 cup water into pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer curry, stirring occasionally, until the rind pieces are tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover saucepan, add the red flesh, and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring occasionally, until the flesh softens slightly and the flavors come together, about 5 minutes. Transfer curry to a serving platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve with rice.