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)
- Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat, and add the oil
- When the oil is hot, first add the asafetida, and quickly follow it with the cumin and mustard seed
- The mustard will begin popping within a few seconds; when it does, add the vegetables
- Stir and fry for 5 minutes
- Add the yogurt, and stir until it's absorbed
- Reduce heat to low, and stir in the coriander and salt, continuing to stir for a minute
- Add the chaat masala / cayenne pepper and lemon, and quickly toss all together
- Taste, and add more salt if needed.