There are more than five hundred million vegetarians in India, where cooks reflect regional standards and tradition to create harmony and balance in making body, mind, and spirit happy using flavor-enhancing spices like coriander, cumin, and turmeric. In villages many still embrace a diet similar to their ancient ancestors, where small, tender seasonal vegetables are preferred to larger ones because they are easy-to-digest and nutritious. A vegetarian meal generally consists of rice or roti, vegetables, legumes, chutney or relish, pickle, salad, and plain yogurt, followed perhaps with a sweet dessert or seasonal fruits. A dry vegetable dish is usually served with a liquid legume accompaniment, such as a dal. Sometimes for lunch, I have a spicy turmeric-flavored grated carrot sandwich and a small bowl of lentils (dal).
Spicy Turmeric-Flavored Grated Carrots (Gajar ka Sabzi)
2 pounds fresh carrots, grated
¼ cup corn oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon split black beans (urid dal) – optional
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped fine
1 green chili, chopped fine
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and split black beans and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until they change color and the mustard seeds start popping.
Add the onions, garlic, ginger, chili, and curry leaves and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions turn soft and golden brown.
Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and asafoetida and stir thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Add the grated carrots and salt and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the wok.
Serve hot with plain Basmati rice or roti, legumes, yogurt salad (raita), and sweet cilantro chutney.
Let’s Curry! Share my healthy repertoire of authentic, delicious, and easy-to-prepare vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes of diverse flavors with family and friends from Feast of India: A Legacy of Recipes and Fables (1991, 2015) and India’s Unsurpassed Cuisine: The Art of Indian Curry Cooking (Editor’s Choice, 2016) at www.feastofindia.net.