Delicious and Healthy Zucchini Meatballs for Vegans

Welcome to my kitchen where I am always experimenting with new vegetarian recipes that I hope will make your taste buds sing. Today, I want to share with you one of my all-time favorite dishes – zucchini “meatballs” in a delicious and fragrant curry sauce based on Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe.

While meatballs are traditionally made with meat, my version is entirely plant-based, and I promise you won’t miss the meat. These hearty “meatballs” pack a flavorful punch from a combination of aromatic spices such as ground cumin, garam masala, and turmeric. The curry gravy, made with creamy coconut milk, tomatoes, and roasted cashew nuts, is an excellent accompaniment that brings everything together.

Even better, this recipe is great for both novice and experienced cooks alike. It’s easy to follow, doesn’t take long to prepare, and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special family gathering. With the option to serve over polenta or with grilled zucchini salad or cauliflower, it can easily become a versatile staple in your kitchen.

So join me in the kitchen and let’s cook up some delicious zucchini ‘meatballs’ curry based on Madhur Jaffrey’s Recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Zucchini “meatballs”-Vegetarian Curry – Madhur Jaffrey

Are you tired of the same old meatballs? Look no further than these zucchini “meatballs” in a delicious vegetarian curry. You may be thinking, “Zucchini as meatballs? How can that be?” But trust me, the flavors and textures in this dish will have you swooning.

Firstly, let’s talk about how versatile these “meatballs” are. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking for a meatless meal option, these zucchini bites packed with onions, chickpea flour, fresh cilantro, and more are perfect for anyone looking for a flavorful and healthy alternative to traditional meatballs.

And speaking of flavor, the curry in this dish is bursting with it. Made with a blend of roasted cashew nuts, ground coriander, garam masala, and other spices, it provides the perfect balance of heat and creaminess. Plus, Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe expertise ensures that everything comes together perfectly.

But perhaps what I love most about this recipe is how easy it is to make substitutions and variations based on personal tastes. Want to make it spicier? Add more cayenne pepper or fresh green chile. Have some leftover tomatoes or coconut milk on hand? Incorporate them into the curry to create your own twist on this delicious recipe.

In short, this recipe is perfect for anyone looking for a unique and flavorful vegetarian meal option that even meat-eaters will love. So go ahead and give Madhur Jaffrey’s zucchini “meatballs”-vegetarian curry a try – your taste buds will thank you!

Ingredient List

 These zucchini
These zucchini “meatballs” are the perfect vegetarian alternative for meatballs in your favorite dishes!

Let’s gather the essentials for this yummy recipe!

Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious zucchini meatballs:

  • Zucchini
  • Onions
  • Chickpea flour
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Salt
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh green chile
  • Roasted cashew nuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Heavy cream

All these ingredients are easily available at your nearest grocery store or supermarket. Don’t forget to check them off your list before starting this recipe.

The Recipe How-To

 The spices added in this Madhur Jaffrey inspired recipe take these zucchini
The spices added in this Madhur Jaffrey inspired recipe take these zucchini “meatballs” to the next level

Step 1: Prepare the Meatballs

In a large mixing bowl, add grated zucchini, chickpea flour, finely chopped onion and fresh cilantro. Mix everything together evenly with your hands until it forms a smooth and thick paste.

Step 2: Season and Shape the Meatballs

Add ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and turmeric to the mixture above. Season with salt according to taste. Roll the mixture into small rounded shapes of meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter.

Step 3: Sear the Meatballs

Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Gently place the meatballs on to the hot pan without over-crowding them, without moving them for a minute or two until they develop a crust. Gradually flip them on all sides until nicely browned all around.

Step 4: Make the Curry Sauce

Remove the meatballs from the pan using a slotted spoon, leaving behind any excess fat. In this same pan, sauté minced onions and sliced fresh green chiles until golden brown- pour in diced tomatoes and stir in ground spices (garam masala, cumin, and coriander) until fragrant release their aroma.

Pour in hot water stir in powdered chickpea flour (~2 ½ tablespoons) and salt to taste. Stir gently to ensure that no lumps form while gradually increasing the heat–so that the sauce slowly comes up to a boil.

Lower heat until you have a gentle simmer, then add seared meatballs back into the sauce. Cover pan with a lid slightly askew, letting some steam escape.

Simmer for about twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally taking care not to damage meatballs till Kofta (meatballs) are cooked through and curry sauce thickens slightly.

Finish by stirring in some heavy cream – cook uncovered for two minutes, then garnish this vegetarian “curry” with freshly chopped cilantro and roasted cashew nuts.

Enjoy as it is or serve alongside rice or naan bread.

Note: This recipe also works well with variations such as lamb kofta or chicken kofta instead of zucchini “meatballs”.

Substitutions and Variations

 Flavorful and hearty, these zucchini
Flavorful and hearty, these zucchini “meatballs” will make you forget you’re eating vegetarian

One of the best things about cooking is the ability to make it your own. And this Zucchini “Meatballs”-Vegetarian Curry recipe by Madhur Jaffrey certainly provides room for creativity! Here are some substitutions and variations to try out:

– Cashew nuts: If you’re allergic or simply don’t have any cashews on hand, almonds or pistachios work just as well.

– Heavy cream: For a vegan option, replace the heavy cream with coconut milk. This will add a delicious coconut flavor to the recipe.

– Zucchini: Swap zucchini for cauliflower or grilled eggplant for a different texture and flavor. You can even mix and match vegetables to create a colorful dish.

– Meatballs: If you’re not a fan of zucchini, try making these meatballs with ground lamb or chicken instead. You can also experiment with different spices such as fennel seed, coriander or paprika.

– Salad pairing: Looking to add more greens? Try serving this curry with a side of fresh arugula or kale salad, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

– Polenta as a side: While this recipe is perfect on its own, if you’re looking for something more filling to go along with it, try making some polenta. Its creamy texture pairs well with the curry.

Get creative with this recipe and see what flavors you can come up with!

Serving and Pairing

 Who says vegetarian dishes can't be filling? These zucchini
Who says vegetarian dishes can’t be filling? These zucchini “meatballs” will leave you full and satisfied

Now that you’ve made these delicious zucchini “meatballs,” it’s time to serve and pair them. These meatballs are versatile enough to be enjoyed in a variety of ways, but I recommend trying a few of my favorite pairings.

First, try serving them over a bed of grilled or roasted vegetables such as carrots or cauliflower. This will add some extra texture and flavor to your dish, while also making it a more substantial meal. For an added twist, try topping the meatballs with some roasted cashew nuts for added crunch.

You can also serve these meatballs alongside some polenta, which is a great way to soak up the flavorful curry gravy. Alternatively, you could try pairing them with a refreshing zucchini salad for a light and healthy meal.

If you’re looking to create an Indian-inspired feast, you could try serving the zucchini “meatballs” with some basmati rice and naan bread. This will complement the bold flavors of the curry and the aromatic spices perfectly.

For drinks, I recommend serving these meatballs alongside a crisp white wine or an ice-cold beer. If you prefer something non-alcoholic, try pairing this dish with some freshly squeezed lemonade or iced tea.

Overall, there is no right or wrong way to enjoy these zucchini “meatballs.” Feel free to get creative with your pairings and experiment with different flavors and textures. You never know what new combination might become your next favorite dish!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Don't miss out on the texture and taste of meatballs - try this delicious vegetarian curry instead!
Don’t miss out on the texture and taste of meatballs – try this delicious vegetarian curry instead!

Now that you’ve spent time creating these flavorful zucchini “meatballs,” it’s important to know how to store and reheat them properly. This recipe can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

To make-ahead, prepare the zucchini “meatballs” and let cool completely. They can then be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to two months. The tomato-based curry gravy can also be prepared ahead of time and stored separately from the meatballs.

When it’s time to reheat, there are a few different methods depending on your preference. For a quick and easy option, simply microwave the meatballs and curry gravy on a plate, loosely covered with a damp paper towel, until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat, adding a small amount of water if the gravy has thickened too much.

If you want to take things up a notch and add some texture back into the dish, consider roasting some additional cashew nuts to top off each serving once reheated. This will give your dish that extra crunch and pop of flavor that only roasted cashews can provide.

Overall, this recipe is perfect for those who like to plan ahead or who are cooking for a crowd. It’s also great for meal prepping so that you have leftovers ready to go for busy weekdays. With proper storage and reheating techniques, this dish can be enjoyed just as much days later as it was when first prepared.

Tips for Perfect Results

 These zucchini
These zucchini “meatballs

Now that you’ve got the recipe for these zucchini “meatballs” from Madhur Jaffrey, it’s time to ensure that they come out perfectly delicious. Here are a few useful tips to help you achieve a perfect result:

1. Squeeze the Zucchini

Make sure you squeeze and drain the zucchini well to remove excess moisture. This will prevent the meatballs from becoming watery and will allow them to hold their shape.

2. Chill the Mixture

After mixing all of your ingredients together, chill your mixture in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before shaping it into meatballs. This will help make the mixture firmer and easier to work with.

3. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan

When frying or baking your zucchini meatballs, make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan. Doing so will cause them to steam instead of brown and become crispy. Instead, cook them in batches so they have enough room to brown evenly.

4. Get Creative with Toppings

Don’t be afraid to get creative with toppings! Try adding roasted cashew nuts or extra cilantro on top for crunch and flavor.

5. Pair It Right

These zucchini “meatballs” go great on their own as an appetizer or as a main dish paired with a side salad or some grilled zucchini or cauliflower. They also pair well with lamb curry, fish curry or chicken curry if you wish to experiment.

Follow these tips for perfect results, and impress your friends and family with this delicious vegetarian twist on traditional meatballs!

Bottom Line

I hope that this recipe for Zucchini “meatballs”-Vegetarian Curry has inspired you to try something new in the kitchen. With its bold flavors and satisfying texture, this dish is sure to delight your taste buds and impress any guests at your dinner table. Whether you are a vegan or a meat-eater looking for a delicious plant-based alternative, this recipe has got you covered.

Now that you have all the tools you need to make this dish, it’s time to get cooking! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different substitutions and variations to make this recipe your own. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try pairing it with some grilled zucchini or cauliflower salad?

Remember, cooking isn’t just about nourishing our bodies – it’s about nourishing our souls and connecting with the people we care about. So let’s get together in the kitchen, share some good food and good company, and create some lasting memories.

Thank you for reading and happy cooking!


Your Vegan Chef Assistant

Zucchini "meatballs"-Vegetarian Curry - Madhur Jaffrey

Zucchini "meatballs"-Vegetarian Curry - Madhur Jaffrey Recipe

If you feel like a real vegetarian treat, this recipe is worth the time and effort. It's definitely not low calorie or low fat, but for a special occasion or dinner party, I have made it many times with rave reviews. This is from one of Madhur Jaffrey's books (World of the East Vegetarian cooking), with a few alterations. She mentions that in India they would use a more traditional long green squash, however since that's more uncommon in North America, the recipe calls for zucchini instead. I like more of the 'meatballs' than the recipe gives, so in the past I have doubled that part. Prep time may not be exact, however it does include the 1/2 hour when the zucchini sits. You can partially prepare ahead of time, see note below. Hope you enjoy!!
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Calories 473.6 kcal


For the meatballs

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 fresh green chile, minced (can use more or less, to your taste)
  • 3 tablespoons onions (finely minced or grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger (finely minced or grated)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely minced (aka chinese parsley)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

For the gravy

  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil (can use leftover from the frying above)
  • 2 medium onions, finely (minced or grated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (could use tinned)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, roasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Optional Garnish

  • 2 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts, chopped (optional)


  • 'Meatballs'.
  • Wash, trim and grate the zucchini - use the regular grate size on your grater, grating too fine may make it too soggy. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside for about 1/2 an hour.
  • Once the zucchini has sat for about 1/2 an hour, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, using your hands or pressing through a fine mesh colander. Reserve the liquid you press out, it will be used in the gravy.
  • Dry out the bowl and put the zucchini back in, add the minced chili, onion, ginger and 2 tbsp of the cilantro (reserve the rest of the cilantro for garnish).
  • Sift the chickpea flour over the zucchini mixture. Mix well and form into about 20 balls. If they're too large, they won't cook well in the middle unless you fully immerse them in oil. I prefer to use as little oil as possible for frying, so I flatten them out a bit to make frying easier.
  • In a skillet or wok heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in about 5 or 6 of the balls - or as many will fit in one layer with room around each of them. Fry for about 2 minutes, turning them until you get a nice even brown coat. I suggest you test one to get a feel for how long it will take to fully cook inside since it really depends on how large you make them, and how much oil is in your pan.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towel. Continue with the rest of the 'meatballs', then set aside.
  • 'Gravy'.
  • Use about 5 tbsp of the oil from the frying and put into a skillet or saute pan. Heat the oil over medium heat and add onion once the oil is hot. Fry the onion for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown and become translucent. Take care not to burn the onion. Once cooked, take the pan off the heat for a moment and add the turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin and coriander. Stir and then return to the heat.
  • Add the tomatoes and let that cook for about 5 minutes to combine flavours.
  • Add 1 cup of the zucchini 'juice' -- if you are short, top up with water to reach 1 cup.
  • Bring to a boil the lower the heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Up to this point, you could prepare the recipe in advance.
  • To finish, (reheat if you have made in advance), add the cream, garam masala, roasted cumin and salt. (To roast the cumin, just put it in a dry really hot pan for a few minutes taking care not to burn). Mix sauce well and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the 'meatballs' and gently spoon the sauce over them, trying not to break any of them. The meatballs turn soft in the sauce, so only cook enough to warm them through and then serve immediately with basmati rice and/or roti or naan bread. Garnish with the reserved fresh cilantro and cashews if using.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 399gCalories: 473.6kcalCarbohydrates: 23.5gProtein: 7.3gFat: 40.9gSaturated Fat: 16.2gCholesterol: 81.5mgSodium: 486.3mgFiber: 5.5gSugar: 10g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Curries, Low Protein
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