A lot of folks at my CSA farm have asked me what I do with all the turnips we have been getting. Well, lets see. I use them in soups, stews, roast them alongwith other root vegetables, and many times, I just toss them into whichever 'kitchen sink' Indian curry I have cooking on the stove. I like them all, but, I really love this particular recipe, especially on a cold, blustery, autumn day.
Turnips and potatoes are a marriage made in heaven. What I love about this combination in this dish is that in one bite you get the sweet-crunchiness of a turnip, and the next bite, you get the sweet-soft-earthiness of the potato. They kinda look the same once the turmeric casts its beautiful hue, so when you fork some, you never know what you're going to get. And the green peas help break up the visual monotony and heck! taste great too.
This is the type of curry (sabzi) eaten in north-indian households on a daily basis. No extra grease, no artery-clogging cream, no nut pastes. This is humble home-cookin' at its best. Pair this with a simple dal, some rotis and/or rice, and you have a scrumptious, healhy, naturally vegan meal on your hands.
Now for some details. I don't bother peeling the turnips, especially when they are as fresh and tender as the ones from the farm. As go the potatoes, I am very very partial to Yukon Golds, especially when cooked this way. I love the rich, buttery taste of this varietal, and I really like the fact that the waxiness helps them hold on to some integrity when cooked. I guess red bliss would work too. And, no, I don't bother peeling them, but you could if you preferred.
And you know the best part? This is an easy weeknight recipe. Start to finish? 30 minutes. Max. How does that sound? And it tastes even better the next day :-)
Turnip and Potato Curry (Aloo Shalgam)
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 medium to large turnips, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 onion, chopped into slivers
2 tbsp peanut oil (or any vegetable oil)
2-3 thai green chilis (or serrano), chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 inch piece ginger, grated or finely minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chili powder (optional)
1 tbsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (including stems)
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and let them brown. Add the onions and green chilis. Saute till golden brown. Saute a few minutes. Now add the turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, and salt. Add the tomatoes and ginger and cook till the tomatoes cook a bit and turn pulpy.
2. Now add the potatoes, turnips, and green peas. Stir well. Now add the water, tomato paste, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the cilantro, cover and cook 15-20 minutes till the turnips and potatoes are cooked.
3. Uncover, and cook a few minutes on med-high to let any excess water evaporate (if needed). Check seasonings. Add more salt to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.