In the Summer of 2009, Saveur magazine had a spread featuring various watermelon recipes from around the world. My friend Emma and I were in Oregon staying at her house out in Eugene. We were filming for Kitchen Caravan, and trying lots of fun recipes in our downtime. We wore that issue through. Our favorite recipe was that of Russian watermelon pickles, which are like a party in your mouth and definitely worth making. There was one recipe, however, that we didn't get to make, and I have been thinking about ever since that summer. It was another one of those recipesthat just lingers in my head, that nags at me until I make it. It was for Watermelon Curry from the state of Rajasthan. It involves a few spices that are not so easy to come across if you go to normal supermarkets, so it is a bit of a mission. I decided to make some Watermelon Pickles for my upcoming birthday, and would use the rest of the watermelon for finally trying the curry.
I had to go to Kalustyan'sanyway to buy some spices for the shop yesterday, so I bought the missing aijwan, nigella, and cumin seeds that I needed. I really didn't know what to expect, since watermelon has a very crisp, sweet, and refreshing character. I didn't know how it would take on exotic spices that I am not very familiar with, nor how it would perform as a hot stew. I was pleasantly surprised. The recipe calls for carefully removing the dark green skin of the watermelon, after which you dice the white part of the rind, as well as the red flesh, and then introduce them in different stages of the cooking process. The rind gets cooked first with the garlic and spices, allowing it to soften. The red flesh gets added later on, and only cooks for about 5 minutes, so as to meld with the other ingredients. The curry only involves 5 spices: chile de arbol, turmeric, aijwan, nigella seeds, and cumin seeds. They don't have to be ground or anything, so in reality, once you have the ingredients ready it is a quick recipe to make. The result is deliciously complex. The spices are very balanced with each other, though the actual curry itself is quite spicy because of the chile de arbol. The watermelon is not crunchy, but it is still recognizable in its flavor. I had bought a yellow watermelon by accident, so my picture below is of a yellow curry. I would make it again with a red one to see how the turmeric plays off the pink color, as well as if the spices and complexity are different. As suggested in the article, I blended half of the watermelon pieces to thicken the curry a little bit. I can't wait for my left overs.