This recipe is based on one from “660 Curries” by Raghavan Iyer . Apparently it’s a specialty of the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was printed in Saveur magazine, I think, and they recommend for a thicker curry, remove half of the cooked watermelon pieces, blend them to a pulpy consistency, and stir them back into the curry. The ajwain and nigella seeds are available at Indian groceries and I think I’ve seen them at Sevananda. I can’t wait to try this one.
1 (3-pound) piece watermelon, rind left on, seeds removed 2 tablespoons canola oil 1⁄2 teaspoon ajwain, optional 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds 1⁄2 teaspoon nigella seeds 2 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish Steamed basmati rice
Trim and discard the thin, dark green skin of the watermelon rind with a knife, leaving the inner, whitish-green rind intact. Separate the rind from the red flesh with the knife and cut both rind and flesh into 1-inch pieces. Set aside in separate bowls.
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ajwain, cumin, nigella seeds, and chiles and cook, swirling the pan, until spices are toasted and fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add watermelon rind, salt, and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until rind is lightly browned and liquid has almost evaporated, about 7 minutes.
Pour 1 cup water into pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer curry, stirring occasionally, until the rind pieces are tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover saucepan, add the red flesh, and stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring occasionally, until the flesh softens slightly and the flavors come together, about 5 minutes. Transfer curry to a serving platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve with rice.