Considered Comfort: Zucchini and Chickpea Curry

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Zucchini and chickpea curry is one of the last meals I cooked in London. It was summer, so zucchini was banging down the door. The rest came down to cleaning out the pantry.

It’s already a little strange to think of that moment in time on the other side of the ocean, two-thirds eagerness, one-third quiet trepidation about our homecoming. But that’s the great thing about a bowl of curry. It comforts you wherever you are.  

Zucchini and Chickpea Curry 780 | Umami Girl


This curry tastes good right away but actually improves as the flavors mingle. It’s a great make-ahead dish.

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Zucchini and Chickpea Curry

A few weeks before we moved from London, I started eyeing our remaining ingredients with a sidelong glance. With cans of chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and coconut milk and plenty of spices to use up, plus a zillion zucchini in the fridge, this recipe killed approximately 9,000 birds with one stone. It's almost exactly what I had in my head, but after a little Googlefest I didn't even have to make up my own recipe -- just adapt one from England's wonderful Riverford Organics. In the photo you'll see we served it with brown sushi rice, because hey, it's not a perfect world. Without the duress of a move-induced pantry purge, I'd substitute brown basmati.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serves Serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons of a neutral-tasting vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated on a rasp
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno, diced or a pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 1/2 a 15-ounce can coconut milk, well-shaken
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • Large handful fresh cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped


  1. Heat the oil or ghee for a minute over medium heat in a large pot with a heavy bottom. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about five minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, jalapeno or cayenne, mustard seed, cumin, turmeric, coriander and cinnamon and cook, stirring almost constantly, until it smells amazing -- about a minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and salt, raise the heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas and zucchini and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, until zucchini is tender but not falling apart.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve with rice.


This curry tastes good right away but actually improves as the flavors mingle. It's a great make-ahead dish.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 236 Total Fat:: 16.2g Carbohydrates:: 19.5g Fiber:: 6.4g Protein:: 6.2g

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  1. K

    I love this line: “the thing I miss most is the cultural undercurrent that celebrates eccentricity.” To me, this sums up exactly why we journey outside of our comfort zones: to bask in eccentricity (our own as foreigners and that of others foreign to us). It’s such a gift and one that allows us to infuse our lives – upon our return back home – with a little more spice than they had before we left. Welcome back again!

    PS – love the recipe and I just happen to have a bundle of zucchini looking for a party.


    1. Thanks, Ms. K. Totally agree with you, and it makes me happy to think of your fam taking advantage of everything that comes your way. Hope you enjoy the recipe. xx

  2. Hi there!
    Thank you for your post and honesty. “The same old things, but with longer shadows…” is so true. We returned to New Zealand last year after five years in Portland, Oregon, and while it’s great to be home, and closer to family etc etc, it’s still been really hard in many ways. From a city of 4 million to a small country village of 300 with the nearest town 30 minutes away has taken some adjusting. I completely understand your comment about how things haven’t substantially changed since you left, but by being away you have.
    Your curry sounds delicious – we have a glut of courgettes so I will try it out this weekend.
    Annie x

    1. Hi Annie, thanks for your thoughts. Wow, you were just about literally halfway across the world from home. One thing I hadn’t totally appreciated about expat life is how hard it is to coordinate FaceTime, etc. with different time zones. That was true even with five hours’ difference, never mind Oregon to NZ. Hope your transition back is going well overall.

      I’d considered not posting this recipe during our winter, but it makes me happy to remember that the southern hemisphere is flush with zucchini right now. Hope you enjoy the curry!

  3. Isabella

    Hi Carolyn!
    So well said. And so well written. Loved it.
    I’ve tried three times now to write what I want to say and I cannot do it as eloquently as you can! Oh Well!
    If people are set to move countries for a few years I would say that it can be very difficult and challenging if you are going from working – to not working – and back to working again. Industries change and life changes. But if you can keep ‘your life’ basically the same while in your home town, then away, and back – I think it’s easier.
    And yes the culture in London is awesome -you said it so well – and so were the wonderful friends who have really become family. You! the girls! and Jon!!!

    1. Thanks, lady. Love you.

  4. Bernadette Nagy

    Yum!! Making that tomorrow! With maybe chicken for the non veggie son to through on top of his!!!!

    1. Yay! So glad. Hope it makes you happy. 🙂

  5. Jill

    First of all, I’m thrilled to get my dose of Umami Girl regularly again. Second, I personally LOVE that you are “a little different”… prob why we get along so well. 😉 And THIRD… this looks super yummy!

    1. Thanks, lady. I am not missing you any less as time goes by! xx

  6. Interesting post. I live in Utah (where I think it goes without saying that eccentricity is not exactly celebrated.) I totally get how it would be nice to live in that kind of place, but I think I’m happily eccentric where I am!

    The curry sounds wonderful too.

    1. Thanks, Kalyn. I totally get that. But I was surprised how much else I learned about myself when I didn’t have “a little different” to lean on so much.