Recently my mum made stir fried radish leaves or moolor shaak bhaja as we Bengalis call it; moolo is radish in Bengali and leafy vegetables are called shaak (saag in Hindi). I dug into it with relish knowing that with the celebration of the harvest festival Makar Sankranti, which marks the onset of spring, summer is not far behind and leafy vegetables are going to soon disappear from the dining table.
I also realized how much I had changed over the years; as a child I remember I detested vegetables, therefore whenever my mother asked me what I would have for lunch or dinner,I replied, “straight away”. Before I go on to what I meant by ‘straight away’ you need to have bit of a background information on a traditional Bengali meal. Bengali meals are served in courses usually beginning with vegetarian dishes and then moving on to the non-vegetarian dishes and finally finishing with the dessert. When I said ‘straight away’ what I meant in my childish English was I will skip the vegetarian course and move directly to the non-vegetarian dishes. As I grew up I realized the importance of vegetables and started forcing myself to eat some vegetables and gradually I found myself enjoying the vegetarian dishes mainly because Bengali vegetarian dishes are low on spices. Incidentally Bengali vegetarian dishes are usually prepared without onions.
This is how my mother made the stir fried radish leaves. You have the option of using an oil of your choice. Traditionally this dish is made with mustard paste but sometimes my mum skips the mustard paste and you may skip it too if you are not comfortable with the taste of mustard paste. The measurement of the ingredients used is what my mum used but you have to use your judgment for it will depend upon your taste and the quantity of the radish leaves.
- One bunch radish leaves.
- One tablespoon black mustard seeds.
- One and half tablespoon mustard oil.
- Pinch of turmeric powder.
- Kashmiri chilli powder to taste.
- Salt and sugar to taste.
- It is important to choose leaves of the right size. Leaves with tiny radish attached to them (see photo) are the ones which are very tasty. I call them baby radish leaves.
- Chop the leaves along with the baby radish into small pieces.
- Wash the leaves and boil the leaves along with the pieces of radish.
- After boiling remove the leaves from the water. Do not discard the water, keep it aside.
- Crush the leaves and pieces of radish. You do not need to crush it too much, just a bit. This is done to make the process of stir frying easier.
- Grind black mustard seeds to a smooth paste. (As I already mentioned above you may skip the mustard paste)
- In a kadhai or wok, heat one and half tablespoon of mustard oil.
- Add a pinch of black mustard seeds.
- Once the seeds begin to crackle add the leaves and the pieces of radish.
- Stir well; add a pinch of turmeric powder and the mustard paste. Stir well so that mustard paste mixes well with the leaves.
- Add Kashmiri chilli powder or any red chilli powder of your choice.
- Add salt to taste and add the water in which the leaves were boiled.
- Lower flame and cover and cook for little while.
- Remove cover and add a bit of sugar in accordance to your taste. It should not be too much or it will taste a little too sweet. You may skip the sugar actually Bengalis (though not all Bengalis) add a bit of sugar to most of their vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
- Now keep stirring the leaves till the water has evaporated and it is nice and dry.
- Garnish with green chillies.
This recipe has been sent to Meatless Mondays.
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