Monday, 19 November 2007

A Quick Sabzi

Some days, I am overtaken by pangs of healthy thoughts. I wonder how I can work more bran into my diet. I begin craving broccoli. I contemplate going for a jog. With the cold weather and the holidays hurtling toward me at speed, my mind is telling me to be good before it all falls apart in a tumult of turkey and oh-alright-just-another-slice-of pie.

One rather tasty way of eating healthy vegetables is to make them into a sabzi. Madhur Jaffrey, the Indian chef and cookbook writer, tells that 'sabzi' is a word that came into northern India from Persian invaders. In Persia, sabzi simply means 'green'; in India, it's transmogrified to mean vegetables, or a vegetable dish prepared without meat added in.

Because of that broad definition of what sabzi means, you'll find many sabzi recipes about. I like one of the recipes Madhur gives, mainly for its simplicity in preparation but the flavor it can deliver. I also like the fact that you can change around some of the ingredients and still come away with a tasty side dish - I often make it with carrots rather than the suggested courgettes, and have scaled back the list of the ingredients until it was only cumin, coriander, and mustard I was working with, and still I've chased all the last bits around the plate. I've copied out Madhur's recipe as written, but I do feel it's
a forgiving one if you can't match every ingredient, especially asafetida, which might be the most difficult to find (and perhaps even commit to, since it's translation in English is 'devil's dung' due to its...rather strong odor).

For the lovely combination of Indian spices and vegetables, I'm submitting this to Truffle from What's On My Plate for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging.

Courgette and Green Pepper Sabzi, from Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 3-4 as a side

  • 3 Tbs olive or corn oil
  • Generous pinch of asafetida
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole brown mustard seed
  • 1 1/4 Lb / 560g courgettes sliced into 1 1/2 in long and 1/2 thick fingers
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2 in wide slices
  • 2 Tbs yogurt
  • 1 Tbs ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (or pinch of cayenne pepper and squeeze of lemon)
  1. Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat, and add the oil
  2. When the oil is hot, first add the asafetida, and quickly follow it with the cumin and mustard seed
  3. The mustard will begin popping within a few seconds; when it does, add the vegetables
  4. Stir and fry for 5 minutes
  5. Add the yogurt, and stir until it's absorbed
  6. Reduce heat to low, and stir in the coriander and salt, continuing to stir for a minute
  7. Add the chaat masala / cayenne pepper and lemon, and quickly toss all together
  8. Taste, and add more salt if needed.


Ilva said...

Don't I know that vegetable craving! Always good to give in to it, this sounds like a great recipe, very tasty but why are the vegs on the photo orange? Am I wrong in thinking those are carrots? maybe it's just too early in the morning for me...

Pille said...

I love this!!! I bought a jar of asafoetida last year (Bart's Spices have it), but I haven't yet tried cooking with it. K is very keen to sniff it, however, so I can give your recipe to him:)

Annemarie said...

Hi Ilva - Apologies for making you feel like you're having a 'moment'; I did indeed do this batch with carrots. Which were still quite tasty.

Hi Pille - I'm impressed you have asafoetida in the cupboard! I'll have to look out for it twice as hard now, I think.

Elle said...

I love vegetables and can see doing this with both carrots and the zucchini and maybe multi colored peppers instead of green.

Skrockodile (Sabra) said...

That looks wonderful. I've been looking for a good Indian cookbook. I know there are many regions and styles of Indian food but I need to start somewhere. Do you like Madhur Jaffrey's books?

Inne said...

Those carrots look wonderful Annemarie - warm and comforting, perfect for this weather.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Truffle said...

What fantastic flavours! Thanks for contributing. The roundup should be posted on monday.

Annemarie said...

Hi Elle - I think your instincts are right; this would go well with any vegetable that stays reasonably whole when being quick-friend in a pan.

Hi Sabra - I would recommend her books; we have The Curry Bible which has curry dishes from around the globe. It's our one curry cookbook and it's done us well so far.

Hi Inne - Yes, it's very wintery. Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes!

Hi Turffle - thanks, I look forward to it.

Laurie Constantino said...

I'm glad you explained about the carrots -- I was feeling disoriented and wondering if there was a new kind of courgette!! This looks terrific. I love Madhur Jaffrey's books, and have had tremendous good luck in using her recipes.

Lucy said...

I'll never forget the first time I opened the tin of asafoetida...

Lovely. Craving vegetables in the run up to the festive season is happening in these parts too!

Kalyn said...

Sounds quite wonderful. I keep wanting to try some more authentic Indian dishes, but so far I'm quite a failure at it!