Chayote squash curry step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
About this recipe
Karnataka-style chayote squash curry or seemebadnekai palya is an easy-to-make dish that pairs with rice and dal or roti. This vegan and gluten-free squash curry is made by cooking the chayote squash in a simple seasoning (tempering/tadka).
This South Indian-style curry is called palya and is a popular dish in Karnataka cuisine. Palya is a part of everyday meals and is usually made with a single vegetable. It is similar to the North Indian 'sabzi' but uses different spices.
Also popular as chow-chow palya, it is a vegan and gluten-free dish that is ready in less than 15 minutes once the chayote is peeled and chopped. In fact, peeling the chayote is the most time-consuming part of making this dish. It is commonly made on the stovetop but making it in the Instant Pot saves time and needs no monitoring.
I have earlier shared beetroot palya made in the Instant Pot. Here is my recipe for seemebadnekai palya. Read on for the ingredients, recipe notes, and step-by-step instructions to make this healthy vegan side dish and include chowchow in your diet.
What is chayote squash
Chayote (or chow-chow or choko) is a summer squash that belongs to the gourd family. Technically, it is a fruit and is pear-shaped (it resembles an unripe pear) but it is definitely not eaten as a fruit. This less-known vegetable is quite common in South Indian cooking. It is called seemebadnekai in Kannada and is commonly used to make sambar (dal), palya (sabzi/curry), and chutney.
This healthy vegetable is a great source of fiber and is packed with folates and magnesium. It is also low in calories and carbs. This vegetable does not have a strong taste and can easily adapt to the flavors of the dish.
Chayote squash: Peeled and chopped chayote squash is the key ingredient.
Coconut oil: I use coconut oil to make this dish. However, you may replace it with any cooking oil of your choice.
Tempering: A simple South Indian tempering (tadka or seasoning) is used for this dish. It has mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, urad dal, dried red chili, hing, curry leaves, ginger, and green chili.
Coconut, coriander leaves, and lemon juice: These are garnish and are added towards the end of cooking.
Step by step instructions
Heat coconut oil and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal, dry red chili, and hing (step 1).
Add curry leaves, ginger, green chili, and turmeric powder. Saute for about a minute (steps 2,3).
Add the chopped squash and salt (step 4).
Add water and mix well - see tips section (step 5). Secure the IP lid and set it to pressure cook mode for 3 minutes (step 6).
Do a natural release of pressure for 5 minutes, then do a quick release. Set the Instant Pot back to saute mode for 2 minutes so that the excess moisture dries (steps 7,8).
Add lemon/lime juice, coconut, and cilantro (step 9).
In this dish, I have used 4 large chowchows. After peeling, removing seeds, and chopping, I got around 5 cups.
Cut the squash into uniform size pieces. This way, they will cook evenly.
I am making this dish in an 8-Quart Instant Pot and using ½ cup of water. If you use a smaller IP, use ¼ cup of water. Chayote squash release a lot of moisture which is sufficient to cook them.
Be patient. The pressure will build once the squash starts to release water content. Don't be tempted to add more water.
Palya is a side dish that is a part of Karnataka cuisine and loosely means cooked vegetables. It is a form of a dry curry and is a part of an everyday meal in South India. This common South Indian preparation is called poriyal in Tamil, thoran in Malayalam, and vepudu in Telugu. It is usually made with a single vegetable that is cut into bite-sized pieces and cooked with a simple seasoning called 'oggarane'. It is very similar to the North Indian 'sabzi' but uses different spices. A palya can be made with or without onions and is almost always garnished with fresh coconut, lemon/lime juice, and coriander leaves (cilantro).
You can store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to five days
Yes. Follow this recipe and cook the squash covered until they are cooked well. It may take 35-40 minutes.
This dish is:
- very easy to make,
- vegan and gluten-free,
- ready in less than 15 minutes.
Chayote Squash Curry (Seemebadnekai Palya)
- 4 large chayote squash (approximately 5 cups when cut)
- 2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 dry red chili
- 2 teaspoon split black gram (urad dal)
- 2 teaspoon split Bengal gram (chana dal)
- ½ teaspoon asafetida (hing)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1-2 green chili finely chopped
- ½ inch ginger finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon coconut grated
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- ½ lemon or lime
- ¼-½ cup water see notes
- Wash and peel the chowchow. Cut them in half and remove the seed. Chop them into small pieces.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Add cumin seeds, urad dal, chana dal, dry red chili, and hing.
- Add curry leaves, ginger, and green chili. Saute for about a minute.
- Add the chopped squash and salt. Add ¼ cup water.
- Mix well and deglaze the pot.
- Secure the IP lid and set it to pressure cook mode for 3 minutes.
- Do a natural release of pressure for 5 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Set the Instant Pot back to saute mode for 2 minutes so that the excess moisture dried.
- Add lemon/lime juice, coconut, and cilantro. Mix well.
- Serve hot with rice or roti.