Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot, Spicy, Sweet...Turnips???

 All sorrows are less with bread.  ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

   As many of you know we suffered a death in the family last week, and even though it was expected, in a way that sort of thing is never expected. I also came down with some sort of flu simultaneously. So even though I wanted to get at the stove which is always the best therapy for me, no one wanted Typhoid Mary (me) cooking anything for them. Finally, a week later I am on the mend and back at the stove and also back at my writing. 
  It's been cold and rainy here in Sonoma, Winter weather that calls for comfort food, hot chocolate, pudding, cinnamon rolls... root vegetables?
    As a kid, my mother wasn't big on the whole root vegetable thing. Sure, she did carrots and potatoes and yams at Easter, but  it sort of stopped there. Parsnips, rutabagas, turnips were and still are unknown at my parents' house. Of course as soon as I was out on my own, I started buying and cooking these veggies that before had only been familiar as something someone took out of Farmer Mc Gregors' Garden at the risk of an ass full of buckshot. I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of Peter and turnips but all Lord Google would give me was pictures of rabbit with a side of turnips... yum. 
   Anyway, I love all root vegetables, and this time of year they are cheap cheap cheap. I noticed that our local farm was selling all root vegetables for 99 cents a pound so of course unable to resist a bargain, I stocked up. Another good thing about root vegetables is that stored properly, they keep. So today I started working my way though my vegetable storehouse and I chose turnips.
  There are many Indian recipes for root vegetables from cooking them in yogurt sauces to making a crispy poriyal. I decided to make a Turnip Masala. This is a simple spicy dish that perfectly sets off the semi-sweet flavor of the turnips with a whole and ground masala mix. It's great as a side dish with meat or it stands alone on a Meatless Monday served with rice and chapatti. 

Turnip Masala


   Here's what to do. 
    Peel and dice 1 lb of fresh turnips. 
Saute them in a khadi or skillet  with 1 TBs of  vegetable oil until they are lightly browned. Set them aside.

 Mix the Ground Masala:
 In a small skillet dry roast:
  1 Tbs of dried grated coconut
 6 dried red chiles
 1/2 tsp of cumin seed
 1/2 tsp of coriander seed
 1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds
  When it's nice and toasty put it into a spice grinder and turn it into powder set it aside. 

 Mix the Ginger Shallot Paste:
   In a food processor or blender mix a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger with 1 whole shallot. Blend with a bit of water until you have a paste. Set aside.
   Finely chop 1 onion,  and set it aside.

  Prepare a Whole Garam Masala:
   In a small bowl mix together:
1 stick of cinnamon
a few curry leaves
4 whole cloves
3 whole cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
  Chop finely 2 or 3 small tomatoes or 1 small can of diced tomato.

    Putting It All Together:
   In a deep skillet or kadhai, heat 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.
  When the oil is hot add in
 3/4 tsp of brown mustard seed
 and the whole garam masala mixture
 When this starts to sizzle and the spices swell up, toss in the chopped onion and saute til it turns translucent.
 Now add in the ginger-shallot paste and the tomatoes then cover the pan and cook until the tomatoes are nice and soft.
 Now add in the Ground Masala Mix...
 ...along with 1/2 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of salt. Stir it around well, then pour in your pre-cooked turnips.
 Let the mixture simmer on a low heat in a covered pan for about 7 minutes. Check the seasoning, garnish with  some chopped fresh cilantro and serve.
    Now these are some turnips worth an ass full of buckshot!
   This is a great make-ahead dish as the pieces can just be stored and then combined right at the time you are cooking. Another cool thing, if turnips are not tops at your house, try this same masala sauce with potatoes or rutubagas, it works great with either.
    I want to say here that I'm glad to be back cooking and writing again and to have had the support of all my friends in the food community in this last difficult week. Thanks to you, I am now cooking on all burners.


  1. So glad that you are back at the stove. Hey, I have been feeling crappy too. Feels like I am coming down with something. Glad that you are feeling better.

  2. @janis,
    glad to be there..I'm on my second round of antibiotics as the first didn't work..I rarely get sick and almost never take antibiotics..hope this works

  3. I'm glad you're back on the stove, too. Cooking foods like this can be so comforting.

  4. Glad to have you back and to hear you are "back on all burners" I've never thought of spicing up turnips before, I love it! I'm so so when it comes to turnips but I think your recipe would taste amazing and really compliment the flavors used. Thanks for sharing, this is going on my list to try.

  5. Glad to see you back blogging. Love this recipe for turnips. I love raw turnips and include them in salads. Never made a curry but now I am tempted as this looks so appealing.

  6. Glad your flu seems to be escaping you! I love root vegetables and can say that turnips are definitely one of my faves! This recipe sounds super delicious!

  7. I am so glad you're back blogging. I, too, am finding it to be somehow therapeutic. We're here if you need us! xoxo



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