Wednesday, November 26, 2014

bhatt ka dubka | a curry made with local black soybeans from Uttarakhand

I have been traveling a lot and that has caused a serious lack of recipe updates on Banaras ka Khana. I regret not posting all the recipes I keep cooking in my kitchen and many more recipes that I intend to post on the blog with an intention to revive them from the crevices of the past. Not just the cuisine of Banaras and eastern UP, I keep indulging myself with desi traditions from all over India and always wonder how similar ingredients and similar techniques make so many different flavours belonging to different states. I will tell you how I found Bhatt ka dubka from Uttarakhand to be similar to our matar ka nimona.

Bhatt is black soybeans that grow locally all over Uttarakhand and probably in Himachal as well. Bhatt ka dubka and bhatt ki chudkani is everyday food for all locals and it really is so rustic and tasty you would find yourself craving for it once you taste these.

I was in Dhanachuli and Sattal (Nainital district, Uttarakhand) last week, the first 5 days were spent with the chefs at Te Aroha, training them to bake some continental dishes but I keep talking to them about their own cuisine on the side. There is so much to learn from every individual we meet. Later we went to Sattal for a birding trip for the weekend and roamed around the hills eating some local food (mostly alu ka gutka with pahadi raita) and shooting (with a camera) whatever birds we found.

This is where I spotted a cart owner who had written 'Kumaoni dubka, bhatt ki chudkani and Jholi bhaat available here'. I promptly went to him and asked if these were available, you see I can go to any extent to taste any new kind of food belonging to the land I am visiting, I can taste something even if I have had my meal. This cart owner told me he cooks these only when there are local tourists and during summer vacations when there is more possibility to sell. But seeing my eagerness he offered to cook one of these the next day and we decided on a bhatt ka dubka.

He kept his promise and cooked such a tasty dubka that I ate the dubka curry slowly to absorb the taste and asked the recipe from him. He happily shared the recipe and I decided to cook bhatta ka dubka on my return, I had some bhatt already in my kitchen bought from Navdanya or trade fair probably. And what a treat it was. He had served it with a side of pink radish batons, green chillies and few onion rings. All for INR 70.

Here is the result of what I cooked. I am so glad I could recreate the dish, more because the taste was fresh in my mind, the recipe simple. I felt dubka is quite similar to our nimona where a lentil is made into a coarse paste and then cooked with spices and seasoning to make a curry. Similar to nimona, dubka can also be made using different types of lentils like gehat ki daal (horse gram), kala chana (black chickpeas) or even green mung or black beans (urad). But this black soybeans or bhatt is something that lends a unique taste to this dubka.

Everyone I asked, told me that bhatt ka dubka or chudkani both should always be cooked in lohe ki kadhai (iron or cast iron utensil) and that it should be cooked for every long.

(4-5 servings)

bhatt (black soybeans) soaked overnight 1 cup (soak 1/2 cup dry lentils)
red onions roughly chopped 1/2 cup
garlic cloves 6-8
fresh ginger chopped 1 tbsp
dry red chillies 3-4
whole coriander seeds 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tsp
whole peppercorns 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped tomatoes 1/2 cup (optional, I did not use here)
coriander greens for garnish
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tbsp


I observed the locals in Uttarakhand make their recipes really simple with only a few steps. They would preferably stone grind all the onion, garlic etc as well as the spices and then bhuno them all together in mustard oil. Even the bhatt (the lentil) will be stone ground on silbatta (mortar and pestle). The preferred cooking utensil for this bhatt ka dubka is lohe ki kadhai (iron pan) and I followed this detail. But I ground the spices in my electric blender.

First make a really coarse paste of the soaked daal, using very little water and keep aside.

Grind the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies and all other spices together in blender till smooth, adding little water as required.

Make a paste of tomatoes if using and keep aside.

Now heat oil in a cast iron kadhai and tip in the spice paste. Bhuno the paste till it starts leaving oil or gets aromatic. Small quantity of oil being used doesn't result in separation of oil while bhunoing but the masala mixtures starts looking glazed. Add tomatoes if using and salt as well, bhuno a little more.

Now add a cup of water to this mix, add 4 cups of water to the bhatt paste and pour to the cooking mixture. Let it come to boil once and keep stirring till then. Now lower the flame to minimum and simmer the bhatt ka dubka for an hour or more. I cooked it for an hour and half and the taste was really rich, the curry dark brown due tot he iron kadhai used and flavours really deep and warm.

The real companion to the bhatt ka dubka is plain boiled rice (preferably short grain) and some batons of radish, cucumbers and few onion rings. Nothing else is required and you would find yourself eating loads of those radish (mooli) and cumber batons. Some green chillies can also be served along especially if they are not too hot to bite into. What is a countryside meal without some pyaz-hari mirsc-mooli on the side.

For my meal it has to be more bhatt ka dubka, less rice and loads of mooli and kheera on the side. Totally a satiating meal that is light on the stomach and very nourishing too. Very rustic and warm in flavours and spirit.

Are you trying this bhatta ka dubka? Some people make masoor or toor daal ka dubka with a few deep fried pakode in it, just like kadhi is cooked but I wont bother with any other dubka once I have tasted bhatt ka dubka now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

sooran (zamikand) ki chutney | a raw chutney with Elephant foot yam

Chutneys are a great way to bring some tangy flavours in a meal, a condiment much needed when the meal is otherwise plain. Some people take pride in serving several types of chutneys in one meal but it is possible for me only when I have made a few chutneys over the week and have cleverly stocked them all in the fridge.

sooran (zamikand) ki chutney

I can't make fresh chutneys for all meals although I try and have our raw salad like batons of cucumber, carrots, radishes, tomato slices or onion slices on the side to make up for the vegetable intake in every meal. This is how everyday meals are served in the traditional way too, some subzi, some sauteed greens (saag), some daal, roti and rice, few chutneys (both sweet and savoury type) and some raw slices of salad vegetables. The combination will be the same even if there are non veg dishes on the menu but nuclear families don't bother to cook the whole hog. Chutneys come handy when the meals are simpler, they don't make you miss a spread on the dining table. Pickles also do the same.

sooran (zamikand) or Elephant foot Yam

I had never known about this sooran ki chutney, neither had I known about raw sooran being edible. Sooran or zamikand is one of those vegetables with so high Oxalic acid content that it itches the skin wherever it comes in contact with it. Even after cooking it itches the throat and the whole palate if the Oxalic acid crystals are not neutralized by some acidic addition like lime juice, tamarind etc. to the curry. Eating it raw would be scary I thought when I first saw my sister in law making this chutney with sooran. But then we kept taking small helpings of sooran ki chutney over the next few days it was so tasty. But more than being tasty, this chutney has a lot of medicinal value, good for digestive tract, great for inflamed (rheumatic) joints as well as for blood purifying.

The other ingredients used in this sooran ki chutney help in the overall benefits of this corm vegetable. Chilies, ginger, garlic and tamarind are all known as anti inflammatory and this chutney would be good for everyday meals. Tamarind also works for neutralizing the Oxalic acid in sooran and you don't feel any itching in the chutney. Even if the chutney is freshly made, this was a surprise even for me.

sooran (zamikand) or Elephant foot Yam


a cup of cubed sooran (cleaned and washed nicely)
2 tbsp thick tamarind paste or pulp made using about 30 gm tamarind or more if you wish
1 tbsp lime juice
4-5 whole dry red chillies
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger root
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp yellow mustard powder
salt to taste
drizzle of mustard oil (cold pressed)


Pulse everything together in a food processor to make a fine paste.

Empty into a clean glass or ceramic jar.

Drizzle a tbsp mustard oil and serve as required.

This chutney keeps well in the fridge for 2 weeks. I like to have a tbsp of this chutney with my meals 3-4 times a week.

sooran (zamikand) ki chutney

The chutney doesn't change much with time regarding taste but the colour becomes a little dull after 2 weeks or so. If you use a little more mustard powder in this recipe you can use it like mustard sauce for your sandwiches and dressings.

You can also use fresh green tender tamarind if you get those. I have tried this sooran ki chutney with green and brown tamarind both and it tastes great both ways.

Adding some fresh coconut to this sooran ki chutney makes it a chutney suitable for idli and dosa as well. I was actually surprised to see how well sooran blends for a chutney. Please feel free to do your own experiments but take care to add enough sour agent like tamarind or lime or both.

ry it once and see if you would like to make it frequently during sooran season. I remember my grandmother used to make a very nice sooran ka achar with grated sooran, lot of ginger and chillies, All of us used to love that pickle. Now that I am posting sooran recipes on the blog, I must ask my mom about the recipe of sooran ka achar that used to last the whole year.

Tell me if you have heard about sooran ka chokha. The recipe will be shared soon as I am now buying sooran whenever I spot a nice and fresh corm in the market.

amle ka achar : Indian gooseberry pickle recipe and significance of Amlaki Ekadashi

amle ka achar (Indian gooseberry pickle)

Amla, Amlaki or Indian Gooseberry come in the season when winter is just about to start and we keep getting amla throughout the winter season. My grandmother used to call Amla as sacred fruit and as a blessing for winters. If one eats one amla everyday one wouldn't get sick ever she used to say and it is so true. Amla is a great immunity booster thanks to very high levels of Vitamin C in it. Read about more health benefits of Amla along with my grandmother's recipe of amle ki chutney.

It was because my Dadi (grandmother) that we got to know that there is a tradition of worshiping amla tree on the day of Amlaki Ekadashi as Lord Vishnu is considered to reside in it. I find it a beautiful philosophy to equate a tree to a God and worship it.

Most medicinal plants are worshiped in some form or the other in India, the traditions are prehistoric and might have tribal origins, but I find these traditions and rituals really beautiful. Just like ritualistic worship of Gods has preserved temples as the only surviving historical monuments, I believe the useful plants have also survived due to some or the other sacred ritual linked with them.

So there used to be a pooja and picnic under the amla tree in Banaras and the practice still survives as I am told by friends there. I remember there is a dedicated orchard of amla trees in Sampoornanand Sanskrit University where a community picnic happens every Amalaki Ekadashi. I have been to it once and it was really good. This day of Amlaki Ekadashi is also known as Aonra tar (below the amla tree) in Banaras and Eastern UP. Aonra is the name of amla in local dialect. ISCON devotees also worship amla this way.

amla (Indian gooseberry)

Imagine how well our grandmothers were connected to nature and treated food as sacred. I remember about 10 kilos or more amle ka murabba being made in our home every year and it was a preferred way of eating amla during summer months as it is considered cooling. A great way to enjoy amla in the off season. Till a couple of years back I used to cook my grandmother's recipe of Chyawanprash too. May be I'll do that again with home grown ginger and long pepper, other herbs will be store bought of course.

Make this simple amle ka achar till then. This amle ka achar is a quick pickle that stays for a month in refrigerator, there is lesser salt than the regular pickles where more amount of salt preserves the pickles. Lesser amount of salt in this pickle helps eat more of it in one meal and have more benefits of amla in one dose.


20 large amlas
20 large (Bhavnagri or Anaheim or Jalapeno chillies)

to make a paste with 3 tbsp water ...
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1.5 tbsp Kashmiri red chilly powder (this is very mild hot)
1 tsp fenugreek powder
1 tsp fennel powder
pinch of hing (asafotida)
1 tbsp salt

to temper the pickle...
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)


Boil (pressure cook) the amlas with a cup of water till their segments get separated like this.

amle ka achar (Indian gooseberry pickle)

Chop the chillies in bite sized pieces or whatever size you like.

Make a slurry of the ingredients listed for a paste, adding a little more water if required.

Heat the mustard oil and add the nigella seeds and wait till they get aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Bring the gas flame to minimum.

Pour the spice paste slowly and stir. Let it cook till the oil separates.

Add the chillies and the separated segments of amla (discard the seeds), take the pan off the stove and mix well to coat.

Fill in a sterilised jar. This pickle is ready to eat in a couple of hours and can be refrigerated for a month or so.

amle ka achar (Indian gooseberry pickle)

One can always make amla pickle just like aam ka achar but do not boil the amla for that. Just chop it with a sharp knife, discard the seeds and follow the aam ka achar recipe. That amla pickle will last the whole year without refrigeration.

amla or Indian gooseberry

Any of these pickles will the right choice for your family if you eat Indian food mostly. The same procedure can be followed to make green chilly pickle as well if you like hari mirch ka achar. This amla aur hari mirch ka achar is really good with roti, paratha or daal chawal meals. Let me know if you find this recipe useful and easy to follow.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

light meals : muradabadi mung ki daal aur parval ka chokha

Mung ki daal is the most frequent daal in my kitchen. Not only it cooks faster, I like the taste too and the simplicity with which I can dress up this daal into anything I want. I make it into a sookhi mung ki daal sometimes and add some methi sprouts to mung daal some other times. Mung ka dhokla is a recipe I repeat frequently for our evening snacks or weekend breakfasts. But the most simple thing I do with dhuli mung (skinned yellow mung beans) is just to pressure cook it and add some chopped tomato onions and have as it is. I love it as a soup, snack or a meal whatever way I need it.

This way of dressing boiled mung ki daal with just a few chopped raw onion and tomatoes is a very common way of cooking the daal in western UP, specifically Muradabad. My sister's mother in law makes this daal and everyone loves the clean flavours of this simple daal. The most wonderful thing is that there is hardly any recipe to note down. But let me warn you that the simpler recipes need to be accurate to make sense.

Recipe of  Muradabadi mung ki daal

(2-3 servings)

To pressure cook..
split mung daal 1/2 cup (rinsed)
water 1 and 1/4 cup
turmeric powder 1 tsp
hing or asafotida 1 pinch
ghee 1/2 tsp
salt to taste

to serve..
roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera) 2 tsp
chopped tomatoes 1/4 cup
chopped red onions or bulbs of spring onions 1/4 cup
chopped coriander greens 2-3 tbsp
chopped green chillies to taste
ghee to serve 1/2 tsp or more per serving


Mix everything listed under 'to pressure cook' and pressure cook till the whistle blows up. Switch off the flame and let the pressure cooker rest till ready to be opened. Depending on the size of the pressure cooker, the daal will be thick and done or it may be a little al dante. Let the daal simmer without the lid if needs more cooking but only till it gets thick and done, not mushy or pasty.

Add the bhuna jeera (roasted cumin) powder and half of the chopped onion and mix.

Pour the daal in individual bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped onion, tomatoes and dhaniya patta. Drizzle with ghee and serve hot.

I usually make some bharta or chokha with such simple light meals, mostly when we are home after a long travel or have eaten out a bit. Light home cooked meals serve well on such occasions but I can live on such meals even in my everyday life.

This time I had made this Parval ka chokha that I love to bits and keep repeating it till the parval season lasts. Again the recipe is very simple but needs to be accurate to give the same results.

Recipe of Parval ka chokha 


to pressure cook together..
parval (pointed gourd) 10 large ones (scraped and halved)
baby potatoes 2 peeled and halved
salt to taste
1/4 cup water

to finish..
chopped onion 2 tbsp
minced garlic 1 tsp
minced green chillies 1/2 tsp or to taste
chopped coriander greens 1 tbsp
mustard oil 2 tbsp


Mix the ingredients for pressure cooking and cook till the first whistle. Let the pressure cooker rest till ready to open. Mash the boiled vegetables with the help of a potato masher or the back of a serving spoon.

Add all the ingredients to finish and serve right away. This parval ka chokha keeps well for a couple of hours at room temperature and tastes great with daal and multigrain rotis or with daal and rice meals.

Try and cook this mung ki daal and parval ka chokha together whenever you need a light meal to cleanse your body of overeating, festive eating or eating out. Or just to have a pleasure of simpler warm meals cooked at home. I assure you wont be disappointed.

Both these Muradabadi mung ki daal and parval ka chokha are one of those foods that I eat in large amounts. Often without any roti or rice to go with it. I am sure you know it already if you have been reading my blogs for some time.


Monday, November 3, 2014

travel and food : the best places to eat in Mysore, the way we like it

I discovered Mysore masala dosa all over again. Yes I mean it when I say this. All of us siblings use to love the dosas my mom made at home with a creamy potato curry to fill the delicate dosas. And a plain coconut chutney and sambar that only she could make, other aunts we knew would make it differently. We were kids and never realised that dosas, sambars and chutneys can be of different types belonging to different states of the south India. We loved all the other dosa variants but the one mom made was always the best. We grew up on that dosa loving it absolutely.

And then somehow I spoiled it when I started cooking it myself. In my zeal of experimentation I added what I liked and although the resulting dosa was always good, it was not the same. We siblings would often talk about the subtly flavoured dosa mom used to make long long ago. By the way my mom was never fond of cooking and she wriggled out of making dosas or anything for that matter, as soon as we grew up and carried on with our own lives, all of us siblings I mean. We would never find any home made dosa when we went back and that 'mummy ke haath ka dosa' memory became dormant.

We always knew that mom had learned her dosa from some neighbor in Nainital when papa was posted there, which is my birth place too by the way. But there was never a question of where this neighbor belonged to. I discovered rather awkwardly in Mysore. The first dosa at the CFTRI students mess we had reminded me of 'mummy ke haath ka dosa'. The identity of the Mysore masala dosa downed upon me in a moment of epiphany, dormant memories awakened. I grew up eating this sort of masala dosa and never knew this was the one. The one called Mysore masala dosa. To us it was just masala dosa, sans an identity attributed to a place.

Later we discovered a few more stalwarts in the world of Mysore masala dosas. In Mysore of course. This used to a frequent breakfast masala dosa at the CFTRI students mess where we chose to have our daily breakfast.

For other meals we used to explore the city. Well mostly it was just myself as Arvind used to be busy in his official work he was there for. I saw all the museums, lakes, markets and a few temples in the 2 weeks we were there.

The best way to explore food in a city is to go around on foot or on public transport and see the street food if you can afford to. And I don't see any reason that can stop you from doing that, apart from a stomach infection if your immune system gets it as a shock. But I have never ever had a stomach problem with street food rather some five start food sometimes has caused a problem. Street vendors buy ingredients, cook and sell every single day and there is no recycling of ingredients, the food is served piping hot and things move quite fast. There is very little chance of contamination after the food being cooked as it is served immediately in most cases. And you should look for all such places where more people are eating to ensure good taste and the food is moving fast to ensure hygiene. You just have to take care of the water you drink and avoid all raw salads that's all.

The first great dosa I had in Mysore was at a roadside eat street that my friend Shubha Shashikant had told me about. This street is behind the Marimallapa college and the autowalas (the tuktuk drivers) know it as 'chaat street behind Marimallapa college'. These street food vendors come by the road only by evening and you would see many bikes and scooters of students parked there and some portly middle aged men probably on the return from offices lined up up to have a bite and loads of gossip. We also spotted a few families too who used the seat of their motorbikes as a table and were having a good time. There were few cars that stopped by and people had food inside the car but this eat street looks like more popular with students and office goers as we found herds of them enjoying plates after plates of good food.

 Our find of the day here was a Mysore masala dosa, very predictably you would say. I like the crisp but yet spongy dosa and the creamy mushy potatoes that they fill the dosa with. Simple clean honest flavours served in a humble way, each dosa costs 40 Rs. I remember everything on this street was either 40 or 30 Rs and the vendors had their own stalls of bottled water too. This dosa is smeared with a red chutney and then a dollop of creamy potato filling is slathered over it and the dosa is folded neatly. Served over a paper plate placed over a quarter piece of a newspaper.

And then we tasted and liked the idli and sambar vada as well, the benefits of 2 people sharing plates of food, we could taste more but not all. We tasted puliogare too but did not like it much. But many people were lining up for puliogare and gobi manchurian. Now gobi manchurian was one thing I could not muster the courage to try. There are stalls of golgappa too but not worth, we ordered one plate and tasted one golgappa each, couldn't eat the next.

Our driver had recommended another place called Guru Residency for a meal and we marched towards the place from CFTRI campus one day. This is a tall building of a hotel with the restaurant on the first floor. Quite crowded during Dassehra but this place is popular among the locals it seems. We ordered a masala dosa and an onion uttapam as these were the things we would like in a vegetarian restaurant in Mysore. While the dosa looked impressive with it's size, accompanied with 2 bowls of sambar and 2 bowls of coconut chutney, it was a good dosa but nothing great to write home about. We clciked only cell phone pictures as a big camera makes people really conscious and extremely curious at times in such places.

But we loved the Onion uttapam we ordered. I wish we had more appetite and try a few more things on the menu. In fact we could not finish the huge dosa between the 2 of us. Onion uttapam we finished, it was well made and really tasty with finelu chopped onions spread as a uniform layer on the uttapam. But the lentil curry that came with the uttapam was not our taste. Coconut chutney was average. We had coffee that was good if not the best.

The good thing is, that we tasted another great dosa at Hotel Vinayaka Mylari at Nazarbad. I hear this small restaurant is 70 year old and has been serving just dosa and idli since then. Dosa has a nice filling of masala and coconut coated beans (or other vegetables) and a blob of white butter is served over it. A plain white coconut chutney is served on the other side of the plate lined with banana leaf. We waited for our table for 30 minutes it was so crowded.

The most soft and spongy dosa I have ever had and the best flavour of fermentation that one can get in a dosa. The idli was very soft, I had idli with butter for the first time. This is a must visit place in Mysore. They serve coffee too and the wait staff is both men and women, they keep bringing more food to your table just like old fashioned wedding feasts and a small slip is produced as you finish. For 4 dosas, 2 plates of idli and 2 coffees our total bill was 90 Rs.

Only one picture was clicked before we dug into the dosa and then there was no looking back. We ate with our soul spread over the banana leaf and fingers smeared into a rustic pleasure. No time to think of clicking a picture.

Another day we met Shubha and her family in market and she suggested we taste this authentic Mysorean mithai called Halbai. Halbai is apparently available only at Hotel Dasaprakash so we walked to the Hotel to taste this. This mithai called Halbai is actually a pudding that is cut into squares. The taste is mild sweet with hints of coconut. Soaked rice and coconut is ground and strained and then cooked till thick along with ghee and sugar. The cooked mixture sets into a jelly like layer which is cut into squared and served per piece as most Indian mithais. We liked the subtle taste in this lesser known mithai from Mysore.

Later we tried the Mysore thali from Hotel Dasaprakash but it was not impressive. Although I liked the Ole (sooran) stir fry with curry leaves and coconut etc and another curry with coconut milk. Other elements in the thali were average.

Apart from these we were lucky to witness a food festival for a week called Ahar Mela that was very close to CFTRI campus where we were staying. We found a Coorgi stall and had our fill of Pandi curry, chilly pork, black chilly chicken, Coorgi chicken curry and fish curry with Nooputtu, Kadambuttu and Sanas.This food was so good we found ourselves at this stall every other day at dinner time.

And we got the food packed for our lunch most of the times. We made the best use of this opportunity you see.

Now a thing about the Mysore paak. The sweet (mithai) that Mysore is so famous for. We tried the regular Mysore paak and Kaju Mysore paak from Mahalaxmi Sweets on KR Circle road and found it good. I actually loved the kaju Mysore paak despite being cloyingly sweet.

The plain Mysore paak from Mahalaxmi is also good, slightly brown in the middle and nicely caramelized flavours.

We had heard great things about the The Guru's Mysore paak as these were the people who are supposedly the inventors of this famous mithai but the Mysore paak was so unbelievably sweet and ghee laden that there was no flavour of caramelized besan that it should have. You get a sandy texture of sugar in this one that spoils it for me. And about 2 weeks later when I tasted both these Mysore paak from different shops, I could taste bad quality ghee used in the Mysore pak from Guru Sweet Mart.

The brown one from Mahalaxmi sweets was the same in taste, taste of good quality ghee cannot be mistaken.

Mysore is a pace to be discovered slowly I feel. One cannot feel the pulse of the city in a hurry. One can go see all the museums the city boasts of and lakes and nature parks maintained really well but to eat I would always suggest to find some or the other street vendor or one of those small eateries we see along the roadsides. You never get the real taste of a place in five star hotels, it is the street food that brings you closer to the place.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

sooran ki subzi for diwali : the tradition of eating sooran on diwali

Sooran is also called Zamikand or Zimikand in Hindi, Oal or Ol in Bengal or Elephant foot yam in English. There are many names in other Indian languages you can check here as I don't have a picture of the whole raw yam. This is an ugly looking tuber (actually corm) that doesn't look very appealing on supermarket shelves or even at the neighborhood subziwala, but if you have had a good curry cooked with it, you would hunt this vegetable like crazy. I have seen many people including my dad hunting for sooran whenever they don't get it. We had once grown a lot of sooran in our backyard long back but that variety was the one that causes itch. Although it was edible and super tasty when cooked rightly.

sooran ki subzi for diwali

Yes, sooran or suran as we call it, itches a lot if it is the desi variety. Desi sooran has many small bulbous outgrowths from the surface while the other variety is called 'bambaiyya' (meaning Bombay sooran) which has minor itchiness, bambaiyya sooran has a smooth outer skin. The itchiness in this tuber is due to a high concentration of oxalic acid that can be neutralized by washing it well, boiling it and marinating it with lime juice or tamarind juice. One needs to wear gloves or apply mustard oil while cutting sooran as it itches really bad when it does. If the itchiness is not treated well even the cooked curry causes a bad itch in the throat but I am not telling you to scare you, this information is just to let you know that this vegetable needs to be treated well before cooking. Especially if you are using the desi sooran.

There is a tradition involved with sooran and it is considered auspicious on the day of Diwali. Sooran ki subzi was a must on Diwali at my parents place and I saw the same with Arvind's family as well. They probably had adopted the tradition of Banaras to eat sooran on the day of Diwali. Sooran is considered auspicious because it is a vegetable that grows by corms and some small corms remain in the Earth even after harvest and it grows in the next season by itself and spreads really fast. Diwali is a festival to grow and preserve wealth and this quality of sooran is considered auspicious, hence the tradition of eating sooran on Diwali.

This sooran ki subzi is exactly like the one that was made at my parents' home. I sometimes cook the sooran ke shami kabab or sooran ka chokha when I am not in a mood for a spicy curry but this curry is one of the best recipes that has not changed a bit even in my hyper experimental kitchen. This sooran ki subzi has survived the test of time and enthusiasm of a mad experimenting cook. Some tastes are so comforting you want to bring back from past repeatedly. This is one of those.

My mom and dadi (grandmother) used to treat sooran differently depending on what variety of sooran was brought from the local market. The desi one needed a longer marination in lime juice and sometimes they used a paste of Harad (a dry herb, a seed) or even a mix of amchoor, lime juice and tamarind sometimes. Some varieties of sooran are that dangerously itchy. But those who love this vegetable do anything to get the taste.

Luckily now we get the bambaiyya variety of sooran more, but the bad thing is that the desi variety might get lost. Anyway, sooran would survive as the Diwali tradition ensures. Eating a particular green or vegetable on a certain festival has ensured many native varieties to survive and be available at least in the designated time.

Coming to the recipe, this recipe is for the bambaiyya sooran that is not itchy at all. You would get the idea while chopping the corm if it is itchy so add lime juice, tamarind juice or a little vinegar after chopping the sooran and let it sit for a day before cooking if it is too itchy. Or an hour's marination is good. Harad is used in the form of spice paste and is ground along with the spices (1 harad for about 250 gm sooran), and gives the curry a darker hue. But the taste is great in any case.

This recipe is a Jain recipe (without onion garlic), was made after the Diwali puja and we have always liked it this way. But I cooked this curry with some onion and garlic paste added and it tasted great that way too. Feel free to adapt the recipe if you are not looking for the real eastern UP version.

(5-6 servings along with other side dishes)

sooran cleaned and cubed 250 gm

for masala paste

chopped ginger 2 inch piece
whole coriander seeds 2 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 1 tbsp
whole black peppercorns 2 tsp or a bit more
tejpatta scissor cut 3-4
whole dry red chillies 3-5 as per taste
black cardamom 2
green cardamoms 5
cloves 6
cinnamon sticks 2 inch piece broken in small bits

large ripe tomatoes 3 (or tamarind pulp 2 tbsp)
salt to taste
home made amchoor powder 1 tsp (use 2 tsp if store bought)
mustard oil 3-4 tbsp


My mom used to deep fry the sooran cubes and I tried it that way a few times, it takes longer to get softened in the curry I noticed. Later I saw sooran being cooked straight away in watery medium (gravy) in some Kerala style curries and adapted my recipe to be cooked directly and not deep frying and it worked well. Though you can deep fry and proceed as per this recipe.

sooran ki subzi for diwali

I used the soorna cubes raw, added them after bhunoing the masala paste nicely before adding water and simmering it for a long time. Slow cooking is the best for such curries so don't be in a hurry for this please. Although pressure cooker gives close results but you never know how long the avaialble variety of sooran would take to cook.

Make a wet paste of all the spices listed for paste, adding about 1/4 cup of water. Make a paste of tomatoes too in the same blender. Keep aside.

Heat the oil in a deep and thick bottom pan and tip in the 1 tsp cumin seeds. Pour the masala paste as soon as the cumin splutters and stir to let it cook. Keep stirring and bhunoing on medium flame till the oil separates. Now add the salt and tomato paste and bhuno again till oil separates.

Now add the cubed sooran, mix well, add about 2.5 cups of water and let the curry simmer for about 35-40 minutes on very low flame. The gravy would become thick and will be of coating consistency. Add amchoor powder and mix well. Garnish with dhaniya patta if you wish but I like this curry in it's own flavours and aromas.

Serve hot but this curry tastes great even on room temperature. This sooran ki subzi keeps well in the fridge for a week, make it a large batch if you like it. It can also be frozen successfully without changing the texture or taste. Note that if you find this sooran ki subzi itchy in the throat after cooking it, you just let the subzi rest for a couple of days in the fridge. It will get better as the souring agents used in the recipe will get time to work on sooran..

sooran ki subzi for diwali

We enjoyed this subzi for 3 meals along with other green vegetables and salads but this subzi is not heavy on the tummy at all, it was not itchy sooran luckily. Sooran is considered very good for GI tract and for many other health conditions. Will write about that aspect some other time as this sooran ki subzi significance on Diwali write up has already become quite long.

Don't wait till the next Diwali to make this sooran ki subzi, get some sooran and cook it this weekend and enjoy the  subzi whole week if you like this. I am going to get more sooran for sure. I have already made a chutney this season and have to experiment with a sooran ki subzi I tasted in Mysore. Will definitely share those too. Enjoy this recipe and others form this blog till then.