TURNIP is a vegetable, commonly known as Shalgom in Bengali or Shalgum in Hindi, with a cream-colored skin, purplish at top. The good news is that in spite of it being packed with plenty of nutrients, it is very low in calories. Is this not music to your ears for all you weight-watchers out there? Turnips which have been harvested on time are actually sweet in taste and you may also slice them thinly and add them to your green salad. Thank you Anita Mani, for serving the same and drawing my attention to this POWERHOUSE of vegetables. During purchase, turn the turnips around in your hand, making sure to select the ones which are firm and look creamy fresh. The older ones with wilted skin will have a slightly sharp and bitter taste. This recipe imbibes my Bengali heritage as I make a play with mustard paste and grated coconut. All the best my friends!
Serves : 4 Preparation Time : 30 minutes to soak the mustard powder in water to remove its bitterness Cooking Time : 30 minutes Accompaniment : Steamed rice
Turnip (Shalgom) - 400gms
Mustard oil - 3-4 tablespoons (it does not do justice to the dish to worry about the oil consumption here)
Sunrise Mustard Powder Packet (Available in 40gm packs in Bengal or with your local stockist/fishmonger who sources indigenous items from Bengal).... use about 25gms.
Grated Coconut - 100gms
Nigella Seeds (kalojeere/kalonji) for tempering - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt - To taste
Sugar - a pinch(optional)
Green Chilli - 4
Turmeric Powder (Holud/Haldi) - 1/3 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder (Lonka guro/Lal Mirch) - 1/4 teaspoon (optional for colour and slightly more heat)
At least half an hour before you begin cooking, take the Sunrise mustard powder preferably in a ceramic bowl, add a pinch of salt and mix with some water so as to make a smooth paste. Keep this covered at least for an hour before cooking as as to eliminate the bitter taste of mustard.
Alternatively you can make a paste of Mustard seeds (black mustard or rai) in the small mixie jar with some vinegar (to reduce the pungent and slightly bitter taste) salt and a green chili slowly adding water as you grind. Grind till it turns into a fine paste.
If you are new to cooking with mustard and might be uncomfortable with its inherent pungency, you could also pour some water into the paste made by you in your kitchen grinder and strain it through a sieve. The strained paste will be much less sharp and pungent as the mustard seeds pulp remains behind in the strainer.
Wash each Turnip thoroughly under running water, rubbing each gently to remove any mud or dirt.
Wipe each turnip dry.
Peel each turnip to remove its outer skin.
Grate and keep aside.
In a wok or non-stick kadhai, add the mustard oil.
Before you add the nigella seeds (kalonji/kaalo jeere) into the oil, rub them against your palms. This will release the aroma and pungency of the seeds.
Once the oil starts to smoke, you will see some fumes rising, reduce the gas and add the nigella seeds.
Once the nigella seeds (kalonji/kaalo jeere) start to crackle, gently add the grated coconut.
Stir fry the grated coconut till it turns slightly darker and gives out a slightly sweet smell.
Add the grated turnip. Sprinkle some salt and turmeric powder over it and stir gently.
Cover and let it cook for a while.
Add the mustard paste. Mix gently though thoroughly.
Add green chillies.
Keep the kadhai covered for another 10 minutes or so making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the kadhai.
When the turnip turns soft, stir it gently removing the lid.
If you want the chhechhki to be a bit more spicier, add a sprinkling of red chilli powder.
The mixture has to be absolutely dry with no water. Once you see oil being released in the kadhai, it means that it is now time to turn off the gas.
You may add a pinch of sugar a few minutes before turning off the gas to give it a rounded taste in order to take the edge off the mustard paste which was added.
Your TURNIP CHHECHHKI is now ready to be savored with Steamed Rice.