• Yield: 4 servings

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)

Vikas Khanna
Vikas Khanna is a chef, restaurateur, food writer, filmmaker and host of the TV show "MasterChef India." He is the author of several cookbooks, including Flavors First: An Indian Chef's Culinary Journey. He is the founder of Cooking for Life and SAKIV organizations, which host events in support of relief efforts and awareness issues. Khanna has received several awards, including the Access to Freedom Award from SATH and The Shining Star Award from Just One Break, Inc. The documentary series "Holy Kitchens" was based on his journey to discover the spiritual foods that create shared identity.