Saturday, August 22, 2009

Basic mixed vegetable: Mixed sabzi

The trick here is that in this dish, the veggies steam on a bed of onion, garlic, and ginger. There is no stirring involved. Let me explain.
3 tbs oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 onion chopped finely
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tsp green chile paste or finely chopped green chiles
2-3 small potatoes cut into wedges. I don't peel but desis tend to prefer peeled.
1 carrot peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup green beans cleaned and chopped into one inch pieces, such as french beans, gawaar beans, sem, phalian, a mix, or as you like
1 medium head of cauliflower, florets prepared for cooking
1/2 cup fresh tomato roughly pureed (1 large or two small tomatoes roughly blitzed in chopper)
1 heaping tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp or more red chile powder
1 tbs cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 heaping tsp of any good curry powder or Kitchen King Masala that you like
1 tbs dried fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup frozen peas
garnish: roughly chopped fresh green chile and chopped cilantro
optional garnish: toasted sesame seeds

Heat oil in deep pot (must have a lid) and add cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add in onions. Stir fry these until they become translucent. Add in ginger garlic paste and chopped green chiles. Stir to mix well and allow to sizzle. Now add potatoes. Do not stir, add in carrots, beans, and then cauliflower, each one in a layer roughly on top of each other in the pot. Pour in the tomato puree all around the sides of the pot. Now add the salt, mango powder, red chile powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder. Be sure to distribute these spices and the salt pretty evenly over the top layer of veggies. The heat should still be high at this point. Cover the pot, turn down the heat to medium, and keep covered for 25 minutes or so. Test a potato by sticking a fork in it and when it is done, all the veg will be done. Notice that you haven't stirred the veggies at all yet. The onion ginger garlic paste mixture had acted as a beg to the rest of the vegetables, and it slowely caramelizes below them on the medium flame. The tomato puree acts as a flavor agent but also provides moisture so the edges of the bottom of the pot doesn't burn. The moisture within the vegetables themselves also aids the steaming process. It is so simple and easy, no stirring and "bhunofying" until your arm falls off. Turn off the heat. Now add the green peas, curry powder, and dried fenugreek leaves. Keep the lid on for 5 more minutes to allow the peas to steam. Now keep the lid a jar on top of the pot for about 5 more minutes to let everything settle. It is now time to mix everything. Mix and stir well. Add the garnishes. Serve with hot rice and chapattis. Above pic is without garnishes added.

I learned a version of this dish from my excellent cooking teacher, Gehana (see her blog linked in the side bar). She also adds whipped yoghurt and has a few other options. This is a Sindhi style "seyel bhaji" and the no-stir technique is special to that region. Her version is the best, I have just simplified it a bit to be a no-brainer, extra simple home style vegetable dish.

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