About This Recipe
Repurposing vegetable waste like peels, seeds and stems are a part of mindful cooking practices. In my home, the summertime ritual of devouring watermelon applies to the whole fruit, even the rind, which I use to make thogayal, a fuss-free summery dip for your grazing platter or an accompaniment to rice or roti. Thogayal is catch-all word for chutney-like dishes made using a blend of vegetables, sometimes fruits, seeds, and nuts in Tamil cuisine.
Fiber-rich, watermelon rind helps to get your gut in good shape by keeping you regular. The rind is also rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, along with minerals such as potassium and zinc. Citrulline, an amino acid you’ll particularly find in the rind, is being explored for its ability to boost oxygen delivery to muscles and might reduce blood pressure as well.
Note: To prep the rind: cut the fruit from the white watermelon rind, leaving about 2 to 3 mm of the pink fruit on the rind (it adds a warm color and mild sweetness to the dish). Cut away the green peel, then roughly cut the rind into about 1-inch cubes for 2 cups or 400 g of watermelon rind. If you have extra rind, make some Pickled Watermelon Rind, too.
- 2 Tbsp (20 ml) cold-pressed sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp (10 g) urad dal (white lentil)
- 2 dried Guntur or Kashmiri red chiles
- ½ inch ginger, grated
- ½ tsp of asafetida powder
- 2 cups (400 g) watermelon rind
- A marble-sized tamarind or 2 tsp seedless pulp
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (100 g) freshly grated or frozen unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
Step 1Heat 1 tablespoon of oil (reserve the rest for the tempering; step 2) in a kadhai or a thick-bottomed pan and cook the urad dal and 1 dried red chile for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the asafetida, quickly followed by the watermelon rind, tamarind, and salt. Mix well, cover and cook on medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the rinds soften, just short of mushy. Stir in the grated coconut, cook for 2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Allow the mix to cool.
Step 2Blitz the watermelon rind mixture in a blender, using as little water as possible, to a grainy, hummus-like consistency. Pour into a serving bowl. Check and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Step 3In a tempering ladle or a small pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the mustard seeds and a dried red chile. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop and crackle, turn the heat down to low, add the curry leaves, and sizzle for 30 seconds. Tip the entire contents of the pan over the thogayal. This can be made hours ahead and kept cool until serving time.
Substitutions: You can swap tamarind with tomatoes and use olive oil. Or simply skip the tempering, drizzle virgin olive oil, and serve this thogayal as part of a mezze platter.
Try it with: Idli rice or batons of cucumbers and potato chips.