Basic Recipe For Vegetable Bhaji (Dry Curry) With Onions and Garlic
Basic Recipe For Vegetable Bhaji With Onions And Garlic
By bhajies, I mean vegetable dishes without a curry sauce, often incorrectly called curries in UK, without any gravy or sauce, almost like stir-fried food. This recipe can be used to cook most vegetable bhajies in north Indian style, with some variations. Every family has their own way of cooking different vegetable. So it is difficult to generalise, feel free to make your own changes to suit your taste. Take care to not overwhelm the taste and flavour of a vegetable by overuse of spices.
The Tarka remains the same as with onion free bhajies, people of different regions/states/provinces of India will use different ones. I am a north Indian and we usually cook temper vegetables with cumin seeds in hot oil, whereas south Indians or Gujarati people may use curry leaves with black mustard seed. People from Bengal may use Panch Pooran, a mix of 5 seeds. All seeds 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 had always used, but young Indians cook and eat food from all stated of India ans experiment with different flavours.
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500 gm. vegetable of choice, prepared as suitable for that vegetable
1 medium to large onion (150-225 gm.). You can slice the onion thinly, thickly or chop them to your liking.
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed/grated/chopped. Most north Indians of my generation do not add garlic to their vegetable bhaji, but it is your choice.
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely shredded or grated
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
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 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, instead of lemon juice.
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala. Homemade garam masala is miles better in flavour, I will recommend that you make your own, just enough to last you 3-4 weeks at a time.
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, wait for the seeds to splutter/crackle.
Add whole red chilli and then ginger/garlic a few seconds later. Fry for 10-15 seconds. Don’t let these burn.
Add onions and fry until onions begin to turn brown. You can add the onions along with your main vegetable. There is no right or wrong here. Do what you feel happy with.
Add prepared vegetables, salt and all the spices*, except Garam Masala and Amchoor 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.
Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until tender, stirring from time to time. I don’t usually add any water. Cooking on low heat releases enough moisture from the vegetable for it to cook. If cooking on higher heat, you may need to sprinkle a little water 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.
Taste and adjust salt/chillies by tasting.
Sprinkle garam masala and lemon juice/mango powder.
Mix well, but gently.
Turn the 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.
When using mustard seeds, remember to keep the lid on during the 'spluttering' process or they will get into far corners of your kitchen!
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.