Aloe Vera Bhaji/Sabji
Ghee Kuwaar Ki Sabji
Suresh Chandra Gupta (Late)
Note from Mamta : This recipe comes from my late father. He used to grow Aloe in pots. We used its flesh for rubbing on skin. Sometimes he would cook a simple stir-fry with ghee, cumin seeds, turmeric and salt, but we were allowed only a small portion, as it was supposed to be a laxative and have ‘hot’ properties, too much was considered bad for you.
In Rajasthan, it is cooked in a curry sauce. You can use any Curry Sauce of choice. You can even add fresh coconut mince or coconut milk to it. Experiment with mustard seeds and curry leaves, in place of cumin seeds.
As everyone knows, Aloe is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine, especially in skin conditions of all sorts. It has analgesic, antiseptic, growth stimulating and astringent properties. This is why it is often used in the treatment of sun burns, cuts, Eczema, and skin allergies. The enzymes in its gel are said to remove dead skin cells and stimulate forming new cells. That is why it is used in many skin products. When ingested, it is supposed to improve digestion and have a de-toxifying effect. This amount will serve 4-6, you are supposed to eat only a small amount.
Recipe pictures from my aunt Rukmani Garg's kitchen and plant pictures courtesy of my younger brother Alok Gupta.
1 cup of Aloe flesh (from two medium sized, fresh leaves)
2 tsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste (1/4 tsp.)
Slice off the ends and the spiky edges of each succulent leaf.
Peel the skin off from both sides using a sharp knife (see picture)*. This is like filleting a fish. Make sure that its latex (the yellow ooze from the skin of the leaf) does not come into contact with the slimy and translucent flesh of the leaf, because that will make the whole flesh bitter.
Wash the flesh in copious amount of water and then let it drain in a colander.
Cut into bite sizes cubes. Wash again and let it drain in a colander.
Sprinkle the turmeric powder on it, mix and leave for 10-15 minutes.
Heat the ghee in a frying pan.
Add cumin seeds. When they crackle, add the aloe flesh and salt. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.
Serve as part of a main meal, or on a piece of toast as a snack.
*Some people just remove the spiky edges, but do not peel it, simply slice it like green beans. I have never tried to cook it with its skin on.
To make juice, put Aloe Vera gel in a blender with orange or other fruit juice and bend. Chill and serve from the top, leaving the solids settled behind. For using as skin coolant, omit fruit juice, just blend it with water. Once solids have settled, fill the liquid in a spray bottle and use for cooling sun burnt skin, insect bites, skin rashes etc. You can do a simple allergy test on your skin before using it. If you have access to an abundant supply of Aloe Vera, simply put the transparent flesh on the burnt skin.
To poach Aloe Vera, cook the prepared flesh in a pan with a little raw/brown sugar and lemon juice (one cup flesh + 1 tbs. sugar +juice of 1 lime). Cook on low heat until liquid is almost gone. Chill and serve with natural yoghurt.