There is no Christmas in Hindu Rajasthan. But if Christmas were to be celebrated, the royal dish “Haldi Subzi” would surely be served in the desert state on this special occasion. The vegetarian dish is a wonderful combination of the best ingredients and can also be served easily in the western world as a vegetarian alternative to the typical Christmas meal. It’s very special for sure, because the main ingredient is fresh turmeric!
The turmeric root
Turmeric, that yellow spice, which gives the saffron like color and specific taste to Asian dishes, is known to everyone as a yellow ground powder.
Hardly anyone in the western world, knows the original yellow fresh turmeric root, which looks like a ginger bulb, but much yellower. In fact, the plant originates from India and is also known as Indian saffron. In India, the root of the plant has been used as a medicinal plant for 5000 years! Only is of interest anyway. The plant with green leaves, about one meter high, has no real purpose in the medical or nutritional field..
Turmeric as a medicinal plant
The important ingredient curcumin serves as a dye and flavour carrier and is used as a food additive under the name E100.
In addition, however, it has above all medical significance and seems to be a true miracle curer: it has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects, conducts heavy metals from the body and counteracts bone degradation. It helps with diabetes and Alzheimer’s and is even analgesic.
Since the curcumin is not water soluble, you should heat turmeric in hot oil to make it more readily available to the body.
In addition, turmeric contains many other healing ingredients, such as essential oils, vitamins and minerals.
If you have cooked with turmeric, you know that the spice is not so interesting in terms of taste. But it gives the dish a great color. But carefully- if you added a little too much to the dish, the taste is even slightly bitter and can be unpleasant.
But bitter substances are, as we all know, healthy!
Learn more about turmeric and its health benefits here.
Click here for a “Golden Milk recipe”- an helathy and tasty ayurvedic recipe.
An Indian dish with turmeric as the main ingredient
A specialty from the Marwar region near Jodhpur, Rajatsthan, is that so-called “Haldi Subzi”, which translates as “turmeric vegetables”.
When I first heard about such a dish, I was very sceptical and couldn’t even imagine the vegetable dish. A dish prepared from a spice and then also from the rather unpleasant turmeric?
I became curious and rejoiced when I was invited by an Indian friend for dinner – he announced to prepare Haldi Subzi, his specialty.
Of course I helped him preparing the dish!
Already during the preparation of the dish, it quickly became clear that this dish is not a normal everyday meal, but a combination of very exquisite and valuable ingredients!
The turmeric was grated and looked like carrots, while the working hands turned all yellow. We also diced paneer (Indian cheese), cut cauliflower in small pieces, peeled peas, diced tomatoes and onions and made a paste of garlic and ginger. All ingredients plus some spices, the yoghurt and a lot of ghee would be later in the “Haldi Subzi”.
Later, when I watched Pukhraj, my host, preparing the elaborate dish on an open fire, I couldn’t believe how all these ingredients were combined into a single dish. In fact, the preparation of the dish is a little more elaborate. The Preparation alone takes time. But the result is rewarding. An explosion of taste in the mouth, the exotic ingredients harmonize to a perfect unity and reflect the rich culture of Rajasthan. Of course, the large amount of ghee contributes to the good taste – but while eating the vegetarian dish, I just didn’t think to much about the fat content of the dish :)! And Ghee is healthy anyway, isn’t it?
Haldi Subzi/Turmeric Vegetable Curry Recipe
1 kg grated fresh turmeric grated
1 kg ghee (clarified butter)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
2 diced onions
2 diced tomatoes
200 g cauliflower diced into small pieces
200 g paneer (Indian cream cheese) or tofu diced into small pieces
200 g peas
50 g soaked raisins
50 g soaked cashew nuts
200 g yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon ground chilli
1 teaspoon Kitchen king (Indian spice mixture of pepper, coriander, cumin…)
Some plucked and chopped fresh coriander leaves
The most important step:: 1 kg of ghee has to be heated to cook the grated turmeric in it for at least 20 minutes, until the vegeatble gets a brownish color, the fat separates from the vegetables and the bitterness subsided. Once the tumeric sets, the access ghee is removed.
Now mix the yoghurt with the chilli powder.
The dish is cooked in a very traditional way – on open fire!
Heat 2 tablespoons from access Ghee in a wok or pan, then add the cumin seeed and roast them lightly, add the onions and ginger garlic paste. Roast everything slightly in the fat. Now add peas, cauliflower, cashews and raisins and cook everything for about 5 minutes. Now add the turmeric, as well as the paneer and the yogurt. Mix everything together in the pan and stir in a little kitchen King powder as well (if not available, leave it out).
Let it cook for another five minutes. Decorate the dish with fresh coriander and some grated paneer. The Haldi Subzi should be served with either rice or Indian bread, such as Naan or Chapati.
Enjoy your meal!