Dadima’s Shalgaam: Spicy mashed turnip

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Hi everyone,

Those of you who follow dadima’s on instagram & facebook may remember my visit to a special dadima called Usha. Ever since meeting Usha, I have been so excited to share her foodie and life wisdom with you. Today, I share with you the recipe for Usha’s shalgam subji, a traditional Punjabi dish of spiced and mashed turnips.

As with every dadima’s recipe, I must first celebrate the story of this dadima. I was greeted into her home for the weekend with a warm hug. The first thing I noticed about dadima Usha, was a calm, majestic, almost royal, aura. Her voice is gentle and melodic, her words are kind, her face is serene and she is immaculately presented. After spending a weekend with Usha and her family, I saw just how much respect she has from her children, grandchildren, doting husband, and daughter-in-law. Age has no say in the matter – no task is ever too much for Usha. In the space of half a day, Usha taught me 6 quite complex dishes. Her energy was admirable. Hearing her life story, Usha’s resilience has been crafted over the years, through running a home for the extended family, being a business partner, whilst also being a pillar of strength during difficult times. Usha lives by a positive mindset, practicing daily meditation, mindfulness and yoga. The family advisor, with forward-thinking principles, it’s no wonder her grandson describes her as ‘the Queen’ of their family.  Below are some of my favourite nuggets of wisdom from Usha:

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Recipe: Shalgaam subji

When I cook Usha’s shalgaam for my family, it sparks stories of the ‘good old days’ for my mum and dad, when it featured regularly on the menu of their humble home. Shalgaam is nostalgic, it’s traditional and it tastes glorious. I think you’re going to love this dish – do give it a try and send me a photo. I’ve taken some step by step photos and included them at the bottom for you.

Ingredients:

  • 6 turnips
  • 1 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • Three quarter teaspoon of salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee
  • Half teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom, crushed open
  • 1 brown cardamom, crushed open
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • Hing (quarter teaspoon)
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • Half a teaspoon of blended garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of blended ginger
  • Half teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a green chilli, chopped finely (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek (Kasuri Methi)
  • 7 tablespoons of tomato passata
  • A squirt of tomato puree
  • Quarter teaspoon of garam masala
  • Coriander to garnish

Usha’s secret tips:

  • Always wash the turnips before chopping, so as to retain the vitamins.
  • We use a minimal amount of water to cook the turnips, so that all water (which contains vitamins from the turnip) are kept in the dish and not wasted.
  • If you do find that there is excess water after the turnips are cooked, then keep this aside and add it to the masala base in step 7.
  • Don’t overdo it with any of the spices – their purpose is to complement the turnip. This dish is a fine balance of flavours and Usha is meticulous on the ratios she uses.

Method:

  1. Peel the turnips, wash them thoroughly and then whic into quarters.
  2. Transfer to a large pan and add 1 and a half cups of cold water to cook. When the water is tepid, add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder, half a teaspoon of salt, and stir. Cover over and cook until they can be easily pierced with a knife.
  3. Remove from the heat and use a hand blender to blend into a smooth pulp. Set aside whilst you make a start on the masala base.
  4. Melt the ghee in a saucepan. Then, add the cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, bay leaves, cumin seeds and hing and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add the onions and cook until light brown, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add a splash of water before stirring through half a teaspoon of turmeric, quarter teaspoon of salt, ginger, cumin powder, green chillies and coriander powder.
  7. Add half a cup of water and cook off over a medium heat. Then, add the fenugreek by rubbing it between the palms of your hands to remove any residue.
  8. Add the tomato passata and a squirt of tomato puree, and stir through. Cook over a medium heat until the oil separates from the tomatoes – this is when the masala base is ready.
  9. Add the blended turnip to the masala base and stir through.
  10. Simmer until all excess water has been cooked off and it has a medium consistency.
  11. Taste for salt.
  12. Add a quarter teaspoon of garam masala and garnish with fresh coriander.
  13. Enjoy with fresh chapatis or rice.

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