The trendy turnip

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The old-fashioned turnip is now back in vogue. With a distinctive flavour, this versatile vegetable can be eaten raw, baked, steamed, roasted, boiled or even stir-fried!

Have you noticed how, as you grow older, you begin to enjoy certain fruits and vegetables that you shunned as a teen? I admit I have begun to enjoy foods that I would steer clear of as a much younger woman, such as ghia (louki), simple dals… and shalgum (turnip).

The humble turnip, being such a seasonal vegetable here in Australia, does not appear on our tables as often as it does in India. I was blown away by a side dish of roasted turnips that I had at Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie restaurant last winter – and have found a recipe that somewhat replicates it. Of course it was made with golden turnips, a much more high profile version of the white-and-purple shalgum. Smaller in size, they are much sweeter and smoother, with an aftertaste of almond.

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Regular shalgum is distinctly tangy, filled as it is with Vitamin C and minerals. In the cuisine of north India, it is cooked up in a simple curry and eaten with rotis. Punjabis also make a popular pickle out of it with cauliflower and carrot in mustard oil.

I remember being asked to peel mounds and mounds of shalgum, along with my cousins, in massive pickle-making operations. We hated it, but created our own little games out of it all, such as, competitions for stripping the shalgum in one single peel from top end to bottom. Sometimes turnips are also put into that other famous Punjabi dish, sarson ka saag.

One of my aunts would throw in a couple of shalgums into her lamb curry, making me wonder why. I know today that lamb with shalgum is a Kashmiri delicacy. My mum-in-law has taught me a great shalgum ka bharta (which I reproduce here for you), and she also makes a raita out of turnips. Tender young turnips are great served with a dip as crudités.

Shalgum ke parathe – if you’ve ever made these, drop me a line and tell me how! Another quick one is turnip chips: cut turnips into thick batons and lightly coat with oil. Place on a flat baking tray and sprinkle with sea salt or lemon- pepper seasoning or even chaat masala; then bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour.

Shalgum ka Bharta

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Ingredients

2 medium turnips

1 tbsp oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

1-inch piece ginger, grated

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Salt and red chilli powder to taste

Coriander leaves for garnish

Method

Peel and grate the turnips. Keep aside for about half an hour. Then squeeze out juice to remove tanginess.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add ginger, then introduce the turnip.

Put in salt, turmeric and coriander powders and cook, stirring till it all comes together in one mass. Add a dash of sugar towards the end.

Garnish with coriander leaves. Great with puris or parathas.

 

Turnips with coconut

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Ingredients

2 medium coconuts

2 tsp fresh grated coconut

2 tbsp oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

Green chillies to taste

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 black cardamom

2 cloves

4 black peppercorns

1-inch piece cinnamon stick

1 sprig curry leaves

Salt to taste

Method

Grind coconut, green chillies and black peppercorns together with a little water, to make a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add curry leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

When they start to splutter, put in the onion and ginger-garlic paste and cook till translucent.

Add in the ground paste, turmeric powder and salt, and continue to cook briefly.

Then add the turnips, stir, add about a cup of water and cover tightly. Cook till turnips look done.

 

Shalgum ke Kabab

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Ingredients

1 kg turnips

1-2 onions sliced

Salt and red chilli powder to taste

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp chana dal

Method

Fry onions to brownish, then coarsely grind. Dry roast dal and grind to a powder. Boil turnips in water, then drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible. Add to turnips salt, red chilli powder, dal powder, garam masala and fried onions. Mix well and knead. Take tablespoonfuls of turnip mix, shape into balls and flatten. Shallow fry till brown. Serve with red and green chutneys.

 

Roasted Turnips

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Ingredients

4 cups cubed turnips

1 ½ cups red wine

½ cup honey

¼ cup olive oil

Method

Put turnips in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add wine, honey and olive oil and mix well. Add a little water – the turnips must be barely covered. Simmer until tender.

Pour into baking dish and bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

Turnip Mash

Turnip Recipes.Indian Link

Ingredients

5 white turnips, peeled, quartered

½ cup Swiss cheese, grated

1 ½ tbsp butter Cayenne pepper, or any other seasoning, to taste

Method

Boil turnips in salted water for about 30 minutes. Drain off water, and then mash with a potato masher. Add butter, seasonings and cheese. Mix until cheese melts.