Suvir Saran grew up in Delhi, in northern India, but he clearly appreciates the vegetarian cooking of Kerala, the state at India's southwestern tip, where recipes often feature shredded coconut, curry leaves, chiles and black mustard seeds. The black mustard seeds have a nuttier flavor than the common yellow variety.
How to Make the Ultimate Umami-Bomb Vegetarian Demi-Glace
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
3 whole dried red chiles
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 small jalapeño, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
12 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 1/2 pounds mixed small zucchini and yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/3-inch half-moons
In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add the dried chiles, coconut, jalapeño, cumin seeds, curry leaves and turmeric and cook over low heat, stirring, until the coconut just begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high, add the zucchini and squash and cook, stirring and tossing, until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer vegetables to a large bowl and serve.