Basic Recipe For Vegetable Bhaji Without Onions (Dry Curry)
Basic Recipe for Bina Pyaz Ki Sookhi Sabji
First five pictures show a whole recipe for cooking a vegetable bhaji in north Indian style.
The pictures below these show some of the different forms of Tarka/tempering that I commonly use. Each picture is labelled to show you what it is.
This recipe can be used to cook most vegetable bhajies in north Indian style, with minor variations. By bhajies , I mean vegetable dishes without any gravy or sauce, like stir-fried food. People of different regions/states/provinces of India use different ways to cook vegetables. I am a north Indian and we usually cook them with a cumin seed tempering in hot oil, with ginger, whereas south Indians or Gujarati people may use curry leaves, with black mustard seed or cumin seeds. People from Bengal may use Panch Pooran, a mix of 5 seeds. They all give slightly different flavour and taste to your dish. There are no hard and fast rules, try all the different ways to suit your taste and moods. In old days of my youth, families pretty much stuck to the methods they used, but young Indians cook and eat food from all stated of India ans experiment with different flavours.
For a specific vegetable or a particular vegetable recipe, search for the named vegetable on this website; https://www.mamtaskitchen.com/recipe_search.php
Recipe rewritten, updated and pictures changed June 2019
500 gm. vegetable of choice, prepared as suitable for that vegetable
2 tbsp. cooking oil. You can use any cooking oil, I mostly use rapeseed oil. Mustard oil is good, especially if you are trying to cook a pickle style dish, because most Indian pickles are traditionally made with mustard oil.
1 tsp. of any of these seeds; cumin or black mustard or carom seeds or fenugreek or a mix of seeds like Panch Pooran
A pinch of asafoetida powder or hing, also called Devil’s dung (optional). North Indians usually add this, it gives a nicer flavour once added to hot oil.
1-2 dry red chillies, whole or broken up (optional). This is not a must, but gives a nice, Smokey flavour when added to hot oil.
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely shredded
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated (optional). Most north Indians of my generation do not add garlic to their everyday food, but it is your choice.
1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder. It is better to buy coriander seeds and grind a small jar full from time to time. This has a lot better flavour than ground coriander that might have been packed months or more before you buy it.
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder. This is best bought in powder form, dry roots are not easy to grind. If you can buy fresh roots, which look like ginger, but are yellow in colour, you can grate and use that instead.
1/4 tsp. chilli powder, adjusted to taste
1 1/2 tsp. salt, adjusted to taste
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice. In north India, most people will use 1/2 tsp. dry mango powder called amchoor.
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala. Home made one is miles better, I will recommend that you make your own.
Optional; 1 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves (optional). All vegetables do not need coriander garnish. As a general rule, leaf vegetables do not need it, but there is no hard rule about this. If you like it, use it. Otherwise omit it.
Wash and chop vegetables. Measure other ingredients.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or wok or karahi Indian pan.
Add cumin or other selected seeds and asafoetida powder and wait for the seeds to splutter.
Add whole red chilli and ginger/garlic a few seconds later. Fry for 10-15 seconds.
Add prepared vegetables, salt and all the spices, except Garam Masala and mango powder/lemon juice. These two are added last; garam masala because it gives better flavour when added at the end and mango powder because if added too early, it delays vegetables becoming tender.
Stir fry for a minute, until vegetables are well coated with spices. You don't need to fry the spices before adding the vegetables; they will fry with the vegetables. Also, if you add them to hot oil, it is easy to burn them, especially if you are not used to it. So, if you add them before, be very careful and quick.
Lower heat to minimum. Cover the pan and cook until tender, stirring from time to time.
If the vegetable looks cooked but there is still too much water left, raise the heat and stir-fry it quickly. If you try to let the vegetable cook on low for a long time, it will be overcooked/mushy/tasteless by the time you dry up the surplus liquid.
Taste and adjust salt/chillies by tasting.
Sprinkle garam masala and lemon juice or mango powder.
Mix well, but gently. Turn the heat up and stir fry until vegetable looks shiny.
Turn heat off and stir in coriander leaves, if used. Leafy vegetables do not require coriander leaves.
Serve hot as part of an Indian meal.
Frozen vegetables require less cooking time, adjust accordingly. Serves 4-5
If the vegetables are fresh and the heat is correct, you do not need to add any additional water. Selecting correct heat comes with practice, trial and error. It should be simmering very gently, otherwise vegetables may 'catch'. If you need to add water while cooking, sprinkle 1-2 tbs. at a time. This will prevent vegetables from going soggy from overcooking in your attempt to dry off the excess water.
*Panch pooran can be used instead of cumin seeds, for vegetables like aubergines and bitter gourd. Try experimenting with different flavours.
When using mustard seeds, remember to keep the lid on during the 'spluttering' process or they will get into far corners of your kitchen!
Instead of adding mango powder(amchoor) at the end, try adding 1 tsp. of mashed mango or chilli pickle in oil. This gives the vegetable a 'pickle' like taste.
You can use less oil for cooking, if you are trying to reduce fat in your diet. You can use more oil and more spices, if you are trying to make it taste like restaurant. Everyday food in Indian homes is not usually highly spiced or over fried.
If you are not able to stock a lot of Indian spices, use curry powder in place of turmeric, coriander, chilli, garam masala. It will not be as good as the original, but will be okay.