Authentic Indian Chow Chow Recipe: A Flavorful Stir-Fry Delight

Photo of author
Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine diving into a dish that’s not only bursting with vibrant flavors but also steeped in rich cultural history. That’s what you get with the Indian Chow Chow recipe, a delightful South Indian stir-fry that transforms the humble chayote squash into a culinary masterpiece. This dish, popular in the kitchens of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, brings together the crunchiness of fresh vegetables and the aromatic spices typical of Southern India.

Whether you’re a seasoned lover of Indian cuisine or just starting to explore, the Indian Chow Chow recipe is a perfect addition to your culinary repertoire. It’s simple enough for a weeknight dinner yet exotic enough to impress at any gathering. Get ready to savor the taste of Southern India as you embark on making this flavorful and nutritious dish.


For your Indian chow chow recipe, gather the following ingredients. Make sure to prepare each as listed to ensure the dish turns out perfectly:

  • Chayote Squash (Chow Chow): 2 medium-sized, peeled and cubed
  • Coconut Oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Mustard Seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • Urad Dal (split black gram): 1 teaspoon
  • Curry Leaves: 10-12 fresh leaves
  • Green Chilies: 2, slit lengthwise
  • Turmeric Powder: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt: to taste
  • Grated Coconut: 1/4 cup, fresh or unsweetened shredded
  • Cilantro (Coriander leaves): Chopped, for garnish

These ingredients perfectly balance the flavorful spices and the subtle sweetness of the chayote squash, promising a delicious and aromatic stir-fry. Ensure you have everything prepared before you start cooking to streamline the cooking process.

Required Tools and Equipment

To prepare this Indian Chow Chow recipe, you’ll need some specific tools and equipment to ensure the dish is cooked perfectly and retains the authentic flavors of Southern India. Here’s what you’ll need to gather before you begin:

  • Large Skillet or Wok: This will be your primary cooking vessel. A wok is ideal for stir-frying as it distributes heat evenly and allows for quick cooking, which is essential to keep the vegetables crunchy.
  • Spatula: Choose a sturdy spatula for stirring and tossing the ingredients. A wooden or heat-proof silicone spatula works best as it can withstand high temperatures without damaging the pan.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: A sharp knife will help you chop the chayote squash and other vegetables neatly. A large, sturdy cutting board provides a safe and ample space for prep work.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements of spices and oil are crucial for balancing the flavors in this dish. Make sure to have a set of measuring cups and spoons on hand.
  • Grater: A grater is needed for the fresh coconut, unless you’re using pre-grated coconut. Freshly grated coconut adds a richer flavor to the dish.
  • Mixing Bowl: This will hold your chopped and grated ingredients before they go into the skillet.

Each tool plays a vital role in the preparation of the Indian Chow Chow, facilitating an efficient cooking process that locks in freshness and flavor. Ensure all these items are clean and ready to use to streamline your cooking experience.

Preparation Steps

To ensure your Indian Chow Chow turns out flavorful and authentic, follow these essential preparation steps. Properly preparing your ingredients lays the foundation for a delicious dish.

Washing and Cutting the Chow Chow

Start by washing the chayote squash under cold running water to remove any dirt or residue. Once clean, place the squash on your cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off both ends of the chayote to remove the stem and base. Peel the outer skin if it’s tough or blemished; otherwise, you can leave it on for extra texture.

Cut the chayote in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seed and any fibrous parts from the core with a spoon. Next, chop the halves into half-inch cubes. Ensure your pieces are uniform in size to promote even cooking.

Prepping Other Ingredients

After your chow chow is ready, gather the other ingredients. Measure out each spice carefully to maintain balance in the flavors:

  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of urad dal (black lentils)
  • A pinch of turmeric powder
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped (adjust according to your spice tolerance)
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves (remove leaves from the stem)

Heat two tablespoons of coconut oil in your skillet or wok over medium heat. This oil will serve as the base flavor for your fry. Keep your remaining ingredients handy:

  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup of grated coconut
  • Fresh cilantro for garnishing

Make sure the grated coconut is fresh or moistened if using desiccated, to preserve its tropical nuttiness. Chop your cilantro coarsely to sprinkle as a garnish before serving, adding a burst of freshness and color to the dish.

Cooking Process

Now that your ingredients are prepped, let’s dive into the cooking process that brings out the vibrant flavors of this traditional South Indian dish.

Sautéing Spices and Vegetables

  1. Heat two tablespoons of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add one teaspoon of mustard seeds. Wait for them to start spluttering, which signals they are releasing their flavors.
  3. Add one teaspoon of urad dal to the skillet. Stir continuously until the dal turns golden, ensuring it doesn’t burn.
  4. Lower the heat slightly, then introduce a few curry leaves and two sliced green chilies to the skillet. Sauté for about 30 seconds to infuse the oil with their aromatic essence.
  5. Add the chayote squash to the skillet. Stir everything together to ensure the squash is well coated with the spices and oil.

Simmering the Chayote Squash

  1. Sprinkle one-half teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste over the chayote squash. Mix well, ensuring the squash pieces are evenly seasoned.
  2. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the chayote cook for about 10 minutes, or until it is soft and tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
  3. Once the chow chow is cooked, add three tablespoons of grated coconut and mix thoroughly. Allow it to cook uncovered for another 2-3 minutes to let the flavors meld together beautifully.
  4. Turn off the heat and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. This not only adds a pop of color but also enhances the dish with a fresh, herbal note.

Serving Suggestions

After you’ve masterfully cooked the Indian Chow Chow, deciding how to serve it can enhance its enjoyment. This vibrant dish pairs excellently with a variety of accompaniments that complement its rich flavors.

  • Steamy Rice: Serve your Chow Chow alongside a bowl of hot steamed rice. The simplicity of the rice perfectly balances the robust flavors of the Chow Chow, making for a satisfying meal.
  • Indian Flatbreads: Opt for any Indian flatbreads like chapati, roti, or paratha. These breads are fantastic for scooping up the stir-fry and offer a delightful textural contrast.
  • Raita: Consider a side of cooling cucumber or boondi raita. Its creamy texture and cool taste provide a lovely contrast to the spices of the Chow Chow.
  • Lemon Wedges: A few squeezes of lemon add a bright, tangy element to the dish, which enhances the flavors of the spices even more.
  • Papadums: Crispy papadums are another great side that adds a crunchy texture to your meal.

Each of these accompaniments not only adds variety to your meal but also builds on the flavor profile of the Chow Chow, ensuring every bite is as enjoyable as possible.

Make-Ahead Tips

When preparing Indian Chow Chow, the beauty lies in its freshness and the burst of flavors you get from the aromatic spices and tender chayote squash. However, you can still get ahead of your cooking by preparing some components in advance. Here’s how you can maximize your time and still enjoy a delightful meal.

Pre-Cook Spices and Chayote

To save time, you can pre-cook the chayote squash up to a day in advance. Simply follow the initial sautéing steps with coconut oil and spices, then store the partially cooked squash in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This way, you can quickly finish cooking it with fresh tempering before serving.

Prepare the Tempering in Advance

The tempering, or tadka, can also be made ahead of time. Heat the coconut oil and sauté the mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, and asafoetida until they sputter and release their fragrant aroma. Let the mixture cool down and store it in a sealed container in the fridge. When you’re ready to complete the dish, simply reheat the tadka in a pan, add the pre-cooked chayote, and continue with the remaining steps.

Preparing Accompaniments

Since Chow Chow is best served with accompaniments like steamed rice or flatbreads, consider preparing these ahead of time as well. Cook rice and keep it warm in a rice cooker, or reheat it gently before serving. Flatbreads can be made earlier in the day and wrapped in foil to keep them soft and warm until mealtime.

Preparing some of the components in advance, you minimize last-minute preparations and ensure a stress-free cooking experience that lets you enjoy the rich flavors of Indian Chow Chow without the rush.


Ready to dive into the vibrant world of Indian cuisine with your own homemade Chow Chow? You’ll find that this delightful dish not only satisfies your taste buds but also brings a piece of South Indian culture to your table. With the simplicity of its preparation and the flexibility of make-ahead tips you’re all set for a hassle-free cooking day. Don’t forget to enjoy your Chow Chow with the suggested accompaniments for a truly authentic experience. Happy cooking and even happier eating!

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment