Its just the start the April and weather has been showing a bit of kindness this year. I am trying to get my hands on to as many root vegetables’ meals as I can before the Sun turns into a full on hottie. Not that we wont get them here once its Indian Summers mode. But I prefer to eat what’s good in season and swedes, turnips, parsnips etc. are certainly not that appealing when its not the stew and soup time of the year anymore.
So while turnips are still coming under the local produce box in the market, I intend to use them in all my stews & salads, and sometimes pureed in my flatbreads too. Health benefits that we get from root vegetables are immense, some listed below just for Turnip.
Health benefits of turnips (shalgam /shaljum)
Turnips are very low calorie root vegetables; carry just 28 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless, they are very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre. They help in maintaining vision, lowering blood pressure and also may fight cancer.
It is one of the those vegetables that are rich in vitamin C. And hence helps the body scavenge harmful free radicals, prevention from cancers, inflammation, and helps boost immunity.
Turnip greens also are the storehouse of many vital nutrients. The green tops compose of many minerals and vitamins several times more than that in the roots. The greens are very good source of antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenoid, xanthin, and lutein. Further, the leafy-tops are an excellent source of vitamin K and B-complex group.
My weekday dinners usually comprise of one dry sabzi (Indian version of stir fries/ sautés) and a daal (lentil curry) along with basic roti/chapaati (Indian flatbread). I like to add some condiments or chutneys on the platter too, as and when I can. Doing this every day of the week, while trying to keep up with variety, is sometimes exhausting.. and worthwhile at the same time.
Still, there are times when I don’t want to go for this elaborative dinner platter of mine, and choose something which includes both a vegetable and lentil in it. So I could get a good portion of protein and vitamins/minerals supply for my worn-out, tired brain and husband. That’s when I go for a combination of the two- lentils and vegetables.
Some more dishes where I have combined the two are:
Lauki chane ki daal (Bengal gram curry with bottle guard) | Palak chane ki daal (Bengal gram with spinach) | Beetroot Sambhar (Lentil stew with beetroot)
As you must have noticed, I have mostly used Chana daal (Bengal gram) in most of these curries. What I love about this lentil variety is that it retains its flavour and texture even when mixed with other vegetables. Unlike the other varieties which either have very dense flavours or get mushy when cooked.
Apart from that, its very versatile and its used in a variety of cuisines differently. Like as a sweet in Puran poli (Maharashtrian) or just for tempering in South Indian dishes
Anyway, I can keep on going on about the health benefits of the two main ingredients here. So without any further ado, lets move onto the recipe. It’s a simple curry, which is very flavoursome and has a slight hint of sharpness that comes from turnip. You may substitute turnip here with parsnip as well, or any other local variety that you can easily get your hands on.
Serve it with either rice or roti, with a simple chutney or pickle alongside to complete the platter. I usually just have it on its own as stew for my dinners.
What you need?
2-3 medium sized Turnips (shalgam)
About 1 cup Chana Dal (Bengal gram)
3-4 Tomatoes , chopped roughly
2 Green chillies, chopped roughly
About an inch long piece of Ginger, grated or minced
2 tbsp Oil
A pinch of Heeng (asafoetida)
1 tsp Jeera (cumin seeds)
½ tsp Mustard seeds
½ tsp Coriander seeds (dhaniya)
A small stick of Cinnamon
1 tsp Red chilli powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Salt OR to taste
Second tempering: (optional)
1-2 dried red chilies
1 tsp Ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp Garam masala
A handful of coriander leaves
How to make?
Wash chana dal a few times, and soak for 2-3 hours in enough water. When ready to cook- Peel, wash and cut turnips into small cubes/chunks.
Pressure cook chana dal with turnip cubes adding 3 cups of water, salt and turmeric till 3 whistles. Turn the flame off and open the cooker once the pressure eases off.
While the pressure is left to ease off, prepare first tempering masala. Heat oil in a wok, add in asafoetida, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When they sizzle and splutter, add grated ginger and green chilies. Fry on lowest flame possible.
Add tomatoes along with the remaining spices and a pinch of salt. Cook it covered for a few minutes until the tomatoes are well cooked and mushy. Add cooked dal to the wok, and let it come to a boil. Stir a few times in between.
For the second tempering- Add a tsp of ghee in a small pan. Add dried red chilies and garam masala to it. Fry at a low flame for about 15 seconds and then pour this over to the curry. Keep it covered for a 5-7 minutes to let the flavours absorbed in. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and serve hot
This is a no onion garlic recipe, without any specific reason though. If you wish to add onion and garlic, do that before adding tomatoes. Fry well and proceed with the remaining steps. You may skip heeng
Turnip is a gas producing vegetable and hence use of asafoetida and ginger is important in this curry. Try not to skip these two ingredients.
I use Coconut oil these days for most of my combination daals since it’s quite a neutral oil and doesn’t affect the flavours that much. Apart from that, I personally prefer mustard oil or Ghee for Indian cooking. You may use sunflower oil or even mild Olive oil for the same.
If cooking in a pan- soak chana dal for 4-5 hours at least. Cook it for 1 hour and then add turnip cubes. Cook for another hour or so until both daal and turnip gets softened enough. Proceed as per the above steps.
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