This dish, a family favorite since childhood, is best enjoyed on sunny winter afternoons when sweet, juicy turnips are in season. The mustard seeds add a fresh aroma and pungent flavor. Cooking the turnips in coconut milk adds a South Indian touch.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 fresh green chile pepper (such as serrano) seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 pound tender turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until crackling, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, onion, and green chile and cook until onion turns golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and tomato and cook, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the turnips, coconut milk, turmeric, and salt and mix until all the ingredients are well combined. Add water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turnips are cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook until any remaining water is evaporated, about 3 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with dill.
Reprinted from Flavor First: An Indian Chef's Culinary Journey by Vikas Khanna. (Lake Isle Press, 2011)
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