Thursday, June 9, 2011

Farmers market turnips

Baby white turnips with tops have begun to appear at the farmers markets in New York. I really like the sweet and pungent taste of the turnips. The tops are a little bitter, but sauteed with garlic and chili flakes, they make a great side. If you like broccoli rabe, you will love turnip greens.

These baby turnips are sweet and juicy and are great in a salad, but today I am cooking them the way my mom does with a little twist. She uses cumin seeds as her go to spice, but I like to change things around. Indian cuisine has so many different spices that it is almost unfair not to take advantage of it. Each of these spices has a health benefit as well. So, for this recipe I am using ajwain (an Indian spice akin to thyme) and is great for digestion. Combined with peas which also goes well with ajwain, it makes for a good dish to add to the repertoire of Indian side dishes. We typically eat it along with a lentil and chapatis (Indian whole wheat tortillas).

Trimmed turnips

Cleaned and chopped turnips

Turnips with ajwain and peas 

One bunch turnips - about 10 to 12 of differing sizes
1/2 cup frozen organic peas
3/4 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds) - they taste a bit like thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup finely minced fresh coriander leaves (optional)

1. Keep 1/2 inch of the tops attached to the turnips and chop the rest of the greens and set aside to be cooked another day. The little green bits at the end makes a pretty presentation.

2. Wash the turnips well and scrub to ensure there is no mud especially near the tops. Using a paring knife, peel the brown buts and cut the turnips into sixths or quarters depending on the size.

3. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet with canola oil. Add the ajwain seeds and saute for 20 seconds. Add the chopped turnips and 1 teaspoon salt and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the coriander powder, cumin and cayenne and 1/4 cup water and cook covered for 5 to 8 minutes till the turnips are almost cooked. Add the peas and continue to cook till the turnips are completely cooked. They should still retain their shape.

4. Garnish with coriander leaves if using and serve warm.

Serves 3.

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