Friday, February 16, 2007

For Love of Turnips (Shorvedar Shaljam)

Before I started learning about Indian cooking, I had never tasted... well, a lot of things. Some things were obvious. I had never tasted asafoetida. Some things were less obvious. I had never eaten a turnip.

Oh, but Madhur Jaffrey, whose texts I worship, included a recipe for shorvedar shaljam in her Quick-and-Easy Indian Cooking. And I read it and thought "I've heard of these strange root vegetables, and I've made Super Mario pull them out of the ground in Super Mario Brothers 2 (actually, I usually played Princess -- she had that neat floating trick), but I've never tasted one. I must make this recipe!"

So off to the grocery store, where I got five pounds of turnips for $2.50. I heart the prices of vegetables.

Anyway. I tasted my first turnip about three weeks ago, when I made shorvedar shaljam for the first time. I loved it. It was warm and a little crispy and had just a hint of tartness, as if a potato and a radish had made some sweet pyar pyar shaadi shaadi and this was their firstborn child.

I made it again tonight. This time I got the sauce right -- it wasn't too thick, wasn't too watery, and had the perfect amount of spice to awaken the tastebuds without overwhelming them. And -- with all due respect to Ms. Jaffrey -- I added a can of chickpeas, because the difficult part of this new low-cost vegetarian diet is finding ways to amp up the protein. And turnips, lovely things that they are, contain none.

The best part, of course, is knowing that I have more of this shorvedar shaljam to eat for tomorrow.

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