Saturday, 28 January 2012

Vegetarian Subji

This video puts me in mind of my mother.  She wasn't too interested in cooking, more in fashion.  The frail little lady in the red suit, funny hat and sunglasses reminds me of her a lot.  I like the fashion, but I'm more into the food.

Subji  (Mixed vegetables)
Last night I poked my head into the fridge, and was startled to find bits and pieces of vegetables that needed to be eaten immediately.  This recipe is the result.  My mother would have called this Curried Scraps, but I shall call it subji, which means mixed vegetables cooked with an Indian masala.  You can use a couple of teaspoons of a boxed masala for this recipe, or make this one from scratch.

The Masala
½ teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon coriander seed
small cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods (smashed and dehusked in a mortar and pestle)
1 black cardamom pod treated the same as above
½ fennel seed
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seed
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Considering how many vegetables you need to cook, choose your non-stick pan according to size.  Assemble your spices, and turn on the heat to high.  Add all spices, except the turmeric and chilli flakes.  You don’t want to add these last two ingredients now as the turmeric would burn and the chilli flakes would burn you!  Trust me.  I tried this once and nearly had to call myself an ambulance, the air was so thick with volatile oils.  Cough cough.  Anyway, shake the pan and watch carefully.  As soon as the masala smells fabulous and starts to darken a bit, put in spice grinder with the turmeric and chilli flakes.  I use an old electric coffee grinder for this purpose.  Grind to a fairly fine powder.

The Vegetables
(I had these vegetables lingering in my crisper.  You can use whatever you have on hand.  The denser the vegetable, the longer it needs to cook, so arrange them according to their density.  Root vegetables and broccoli stalks are quite dense, and take about twenty minutes, broccoli florets and red peppers about ten, and bok choy or spinach about five.  Green beans are tricky—about twenty minutes!)
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
½ teaspoon dark mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed (yah, yah, more cumin seed!)
1 small red onion, diced
1 inch ginger, cut into matchsticks
4 fresh garlic cloves
1 green chilli, or to taste  (the smaller, the hotter, so if it’s crazy hot, maybe less)
2 trees of broccoli, stems sliced and florets broken into mouth sized pieces
6 mini bok choy, sliced into rounds
¾ cup frozen paneer
1 cup plain yogurt (did I mention I make my own?  More on that later…) 

Heat your pan to high, add oil, and a few mustard seeds.  When they start to pop add all the mustard seeds and stand back.  Sizzle, sizzle, splatter, splatter.  As soon as they turn white, add cumin seed and watch it sizzle and turn white.  Immediately add onion and ginger.  Stir to cool the pan and turn to medium heat.  After the onion has softened and caramelised a little, add the garlic and chilli pepper.  Cook for a few minutes, but never let the garlic brown.  Add the masala, and let that cook a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add your thickest vegetables.  In my case this was the broccoli stems. 
Cover and cook for about ten minutes.  Add next vegetable, which in my case was the broccoli florets.  At this point, also add frozen paneer.  Cover and cook about five minutes.  Add the lightest vegetables, which in my case was the bok choy.  I cooked these for maybe five minutes, probably less.  When they were close to being soft, I added the plain yogurt and stirred.
I served this subji recipe over quinoa, although basmati rice would have been lovely too.  It’s a quick meal, especially if you use the boxed masala.

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