Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clearing Botanical Odds & Ends

I don't know which benevolent star was ruling when I white-lied to my trainer last month that I would be taking a break from the personal training classes (but not from the routine workout at the gym, oh no!) on account of impending travel, but have I been travelling! It's nothing compared to most people but for someone who doesn't travel often and cannot get enough of it, it's a lot. It's not even as if I've been travelling for pleasure or to new places, but it's fun to get away from everyday surroundings.

Some of this travel resulted in me buying a lot of spices, usual and unusual, but I've used only one of those yet in anything I've made. However, I've been making an effort to eat a wide variety of vegetables and clear the fridge of its botanical odds and ends, and many mixed vegetable curries have been seeing the light of day, as have been many cookbooks and spices.

This recipe is simple and easy on the stomach but there's elbow grease involved: cutting various vegetables and grinding a spice mix. I found the idea for the spice mix in a book on Orissa's cuisine but the choice of vegetables is entirely mine.

Mixed vegetables, diced/cubed: 2-3 cups
(I used red capsicum/red pepper, baby potatoes, bottlegourd (peeled), carrots, radish)

Roast and grind
Aniseed/saunf/sompu: 1 tbsp
Pepper, whole: 1/2 tsp
Poppy seed/Khuskhus: 1 tbsp

Salt, to taste

Oil: 1-2 tsp
Mustard: 1 tsp
Dry red chillies: 2

Water: a little

In a heavy-bottomed pot or pan, place half of the vegetables and sprinkle some of the spice mix on top.

Now put in the rest and top with the spices.

Sprinkle the salt.

Put in tiny amounts of water (just enough to ensure that the vegetables don't burn), cover and simmer. Check now and then to ensure they are not burning. Cook till they are done.

In a pan, heat the oil. Pop the mustard, add the red chillies. Tip this into the vegetables, mix well and serve. This results in a nice, dry dish with lots of texture and taste.

I'm sending this off to Think Spice ... Think Anise being hosted here this month.

I'm also sending this to Suganya's Vegan Ventures - Round 2.


  1. That is a different way to use up all veggies!

  2. This is interesting. I'm intrigued by the spice mixture, Sra.

  3. That looks and sounds delicious. I love anything with poppy seeds. They give a creamy touch to the curries. And the way of cooking too seems new to me. I envy u travelling this much. I can't even travle to your house when I very much wanted to visit u :(

  4. Interesting medley of veggies. But I think the easiest way is to steam them with or without the spices, then temper it with mustard. A lazy cook like me could do that. ;)

  5. Both the before and after pics look good and colourful.

  6. Title and the recipe are so nice..

  7. Nice... I have started doing things like 1> Thogayal, 2> Put them in Dal, 3> Mix them in rice. Declutter!

  8. Wow looks gr8 sounds spicy and yummy.

  9. So, that's why you haven't been posting in a while. What an interesting combination of vegetables Sra.. that looks so flavorful.

  10. I would want to eat it becasue it looks appetizing to me....

  11. That's a nice spice mix. I cannot believe that I did not know that saunf = star anise!

  12. Divya, yeah, I'm looking for various recipes of this kind!
    Aparna, it IS intriguing. I've never tried anything like this and next time, I'd put more pepper - it went missing.
    Ni, come on Sundays, you're less than 5 km away!
    Vidya, you mean pressure cook? Otherwise it's exactly the same as you said.
    Jayashree, yeah, the red capsicum and carrot and the steel pan ... all gleaming :-)
    Lavi, thank you
    Raaga, yeah, I was thinking of your comment earlier and it also occurred to me we can 'soup' them if they stubbornly stay in the fridge.
    Lubna, thank you, it was spicy.
    Laavanya, yeah, it's not even a week since I got back.
    Rachel, next pot luck, then!
    TBC, it's aniseed, not star anise.

  13. Sra, what a lovely way to use the veggies..good to know you have been traveling!

  14. The masala sounds very interesting and aromatic too :)

  15. Thts something unique! Sounds really interesting ,and a nice change from the regular mix vegetable curry that i often make to finish off those wilting veggies sighing in corners of my refrigerator ;-)

  16. Hi, there is a surprise for u in my blog!

  17. that was an unsual combo of spices .. looks good though

  18. How many times has it happened that I have white lied and it turns into black or colorless - or whatever u call it! Somehow this same thing does not seem to remember to work again when my lie wud benefit me somehow hahaha :)

    The potful of curry looks amazing :)

  19. it looks beautiful and sounds delicious.

  20. oriya spice mix? what happened to old turmeric and red chili powder?so different from the regualar mixed vegs.

  21. That spice-mix sounds yummy Sra. It would go well with meat I imagine - throw in some curry leaves and it'd be Chettinadish.


  22. Sra,
    white Lies! ..LOL..Or People management.
    I would love to add more pepper content to balance the Saunf Flavor.
    Otherwise this seems to me good option for trying out any dish ,either veg or NOn-veg..
    hugs and smiles

  23. Valli, yeah, look out for more! Well, hopefully!
    Cham, aromatic is right!
    Alka, yeah, this is very different, but you know what, next time I'm going to try it with the good ol' dhania-jeera masala in the same proportions.
    Aartee, thank you.
    Deesha, it tasted good, too!
    DK, that's usually my story too, some even rebound on me, one of the few times it resulted in good!
    AF, welcome, and thank you.
    Mallugirl, yep, this book has a lot of different ideas for veggies, am enjoying discovering it.
    Mamatha, that thought did cross my mind - actually I didn't think of the curry leaves but I thought of Chettinad when I saw pepper and aniseed.
    Jaya, yes, even I thought I should add more pepper too. And yes, people management it is!

  24. Sra, thank you for participating!
    This recipe sounds great, I have never tasted anise in a savory dish, and I am curious to try. Nice combination of vegetables.

  25. Lovely way to eat veggies.Love the spice mix.will try it out and see

  26. *gasp* You told your trainer a white lie?! LOL!

    Very cool post!


  27. Working out during Travel? Sra, you are really making me feel bad here... Anyway, hope you had a nice trip..
    Now, about the dish, it is a pretty one... I love the simple spice mix.

  28. Are you training to become a personal trainer? How exciting. And you're right. Everyone needs to "spice things up" now and again. :)

  29. Very differnt spice mix! Would surely help to clear out my fridge!

  30. Manuela, aniseed is quite common in many Indian cuisines, tho' not so much in my own particular one.
    Curry Leaf, so did you try it?
    Paz, yes, I had to, lest she felt I was unhappy with her training, which wasn't the case. Tks.
    Sig, no, you got me wrong - personal training is a different set of classes and routine gym is a different set, they alternate. What I meant was I was telling the trainer I wouldn't renew my fees for her classes for a while.
    Susan, oh no, I had a trainer for myself at the gym, that's what I meant.
    Uma, thank you.
    Jyothsna, hi, nice to see you, how've you been?
    Lubna, thank you.


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