A curry? Made from watermelon? You don't get it. Neither did I — at least at first. When I came across this traditional dish from Rajasthan, the largest state in India located in the northwest corner of the country, I didn't quite know what to think of it.
I can eat pounds and pounds of watermelon in all forms throughout the summer, but this isn't one I expected. I tried it anyway, and guess what? It works — it works extremely well. This sweet and spicy dish is proof that watermelon is far more versatile than you ever imagined.
A New Way to Eat Watermelon
Sauté chunks of watermelon in a mix of spices and you may just forget that it is a fruit after all. Sure it still has its signature sweetness, but spices and aromatics like garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne add complexity, heat, and flavor to the otherwise one-note fruit. And since the fruit is so packed with water, it forms its own natural sweet and savory sauce.
Serve this curry the traditional way, over plain basmati rice, to ensure you grab every bit of the flavorful sauce. You're guaranteed to be surprised at first bite before quickly going back in for another.
1 small, seedless watermelon (about 2 pounds), rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups), divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Steamed basmati rice, for serving
Purée 1 cup of the watermelon cubes in a blender or food processor until smooth; set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook until toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the garlic and sauté until it just starts to brown, about 30 seconds.
Add the puréed watermelon, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer, and let the liquid reduce slightly and thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the remaining watermelon cubes to the pan. Toss them gently to coat so that they're evenly coated with sauce. Cover the pan and simmer until the watermelon is heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste season with more cayenne and/or salt as needed.
Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve over rice. This curry does not keep well, so it's best eaten immediately.