I am currently living in Mumbai, India (spouse’s job) and this has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it has given us the chance to plan and prepare for retirement (the Retreat in Bulgaria), we get to travel the world (something that, as a child, I had always dreamed of doing) and I get to meet interesting people and experience other cultures. The curse…well…travel can be exhausting, and you lack a settled place to call your own. Home has become rented flats and hotel rooms. I feel there are entire months where I have lived out of a suitcase but I really don’t think I would, or could, change a thing.
I need to confess, I don’t care that much for Mumbai. It is a sprawling behemoth of a metropolis that likes to tout itself as the exotic sister of New York. The comparisons are slim. There are too many people, and too much traffic and Skyscrapers are eradicating most of its historical sites. It is a far cry from the place I loved upon my first visit in 2003; but here I am, simply grateful for a close airport that can take me out of the city if even for a long weekend. Rajasthan happens to be one of those places. We had planned to go again this winter but S. had to have knee surgery.
Scenes from Rajasthan
I loved Rajasthan and I loved the food and if you are ever planning a trip to India…please, I beg you, check it out. It gets cold there in the winter and it reminds me of the high-desert of New Mexico but with camels and monkeys. It is beautiful and the people are awesome and the food is divine. We had the most wonderful Haldi ki Sabzi (Turmeric Curry). Warm and delicious and it knocked the cold I was getting outta the ball park.
So, in honor of last year’s trip and turmeric being in season (not to mention me needing a break from Mumbai…anyway I can get it), I picked up everything (I thought) I would need to make the curry and it turned out better than I expected it would, though not as good as the roadside Dhaba. It is well worth the marigold-colored stain on my fingers. I much prefer the version with ghee and curd but was sadly lacking both when I made this last batch. I had coconut oil and coconut milk on hand and used those instead…works great if you are vegan.
Haldi Ki Sabzi / Turmeric Curry
1 tbsp. coconut oil….or….2/3 cup of Ghee
3 shallots…or…1 small red onion (red onions in India are smaller than what we have in the states and are more like a shallot).
3 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and diced fine
7 to 8 whole raw turmeric, washed, peeled and finely diced or grated (Turmeric resembles Ginger, looks bulbish and the skin is like a piece of ginger got a sunburn and has started to peel).
2 inch-long piece of Ginger, washed, peeled and finely diced
400 ml (2 cups) of coconut milk…or…400 ml (2 cups) curd (yogurt, plain)
4-6 tomatoes (400 g/2 cups) washed, and quartered or large dice
1-3 green chili(s) washed, stems removed (if you don’t like the heat, split them and remove the seeds)
100g (1/2 cup, roughly) of peas
100g of green beans, washed, snapped into bite size pieces
200g of potatoes, washed, cut into 1 inch cubes ( sweet potatoes are a nice swap)
200g of pumpkin, cubed (pumpkin is available year round in India, if it isn’t autumn back home add extra potatoes or another vegetable of choice)
100g of cauliflower, in bite size florettes
2 pinches of Hing (Asfoetida)
Garam Masala (it is just a spice blend and every region has one and every family in said regions has a variation uniquely their own…play with the amounts and come up with your own but until you do…this will get you started)
10 black peppercorns, 5 cloves, 2 inch piece of cinnamon bark (stick), 4 green cardamom, 2 black cardamom, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 anise stars, 2 pinches of Hing, 2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp of salt or more to taste
1). In a deep pan heat the coconut oil or ghee (you can tell if it is hot enough by flicking drops of water into the oil, if it pops and sizzles its ready). Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add the hing, garam masala, fresh turmeric and the ginger to the onion and garlic and stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes.
2). Reduce heat to medium, add the green chili and the tomatoes, and put lid on for a few minutes. You can stir occasionally. You want the tomatoes to break down. You want them mushy. Once the tomatoes breakdown reduce heat to medium-low . Remove the green chili (optional, your preference) and add the coconut milk or plain yogurt; heat until it just starts to bubble and then add your potatoes (sweet or plain or both),pumpkin and cauliflower. place lid on pan and leave for about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
3) When Potatoes/pumpkin, cauliflower is tender add green beans and peas to pan, cover pan and cook until peas and beans are soft.
4) Take pan off the heat when all vegetables are soft.
5). Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with basmati rice, or flat bread (naan, chapatti, paratha).
Feel free to play with the intensity of the spices and chili or add different types of vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, kale or chard. I would add the leafy greens at the very end last 3-5 minutes because they cook up fast. Enjoy!