Many vegetarians in India, especially in the central desert region of Rajasthan, where there is a dearth of wood for fuel, stir-fry their vegetables quickly in a little yogurt. This gives them creaminess and tartness, as well as added protein. Here is one such quick-cooking and delicious dish. It is generally served with Indian flatbreads, such as chapatis, and a dal. You can also serve it with rice.

    A nice, sour plain yogurt is best here. Indian stores sell it as “dahi,” and health-food stores sell an acidophilus yogurt that is tart, but any plain yogurt will do. If it is not at all sour, just leave the required amount unrefrigerated in a warm place for 24 hours.

    SERVES 4

    • 1 lb. young zucchini and young yellow squash (I used 2 small zucchini and 2 small yellow squash, but just one or the other could be used if you prefer)
    • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
    • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon or more nice red chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
    • Pinch of ground asafetida
    • ¼ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon whole cumin seeds

    1. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ½ inch pieces. Combine the yogurt, turmeric, coriander, salt, pepper, and chili powder in a small bowl and mix well.
    2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the asafetida, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds pop, in a matter of seconds, add all the cut vegetables. Stir and fry for 3–4 minutes or until the vegetables just start to take on color.
    3. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt mixture. Stir a few times, then add another tablespoon of the mixture. Do this again with the remaining mixture, stirring for a minute after each addition. Taste for salt. Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir a final time. Turn off the heat.