“Half a spoon ( about 1 teaspoon) is enough!”, my mother would say. The first thing I learned about cooking veggies was “add some haldi ( turmeric)” after about two – three minutes of sauteing, be it potatoes, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, they all needed that little bit of haldi, followed by a dash of salt. Cook on low heat for about 20 – 25 minutes until done, finish with a sprinkle of garam masala. Simple, easy & delicious!
My mom’s spices were all freshly ground and stored in this Namak Daani ( spice box) a standard feature at many North Indian homes. She could whip up 5 – 6 dishes for a crowd coming over for dinner in a couple hours. Be it 15 people or 50 people, her estimate on how much to make was always perfect. And the food always delicious!!! She kept it simple, by using Haldi and Garam masala as her primary spice agents. To get that touch of tanginess in Cholle ( garbanzo bean masala) she would add freshly crushed Anardana (dry Pomegranate seeds), or raw green chillies to spice up the saag( steamed greens) or raw chopped red onions on the side to add that crunch to the daal.
Quick Cabbage Stir Fry
4 C chopped Cabbage
1 Banana Pepper
1 t tumeric
1 t Garam Masala
2 T oil
- Put the chopped cabbage and banana pepper on a non stick skillet
- Saute for 2 minutes
- Add Tumeric and Salt and blend well for 2 more minutes till it is soft and slightly cooked
- Drizzle oil and blend for another 2 minutes on high heat
- Sprinkle Garam Masala
- Enjoy it with some Roti/Pita or flat bread…….
Dry turmeric would always be spread out in the sun before being taken to the mill to be ground into a fine powder. After I moved away from home, I always got to bring a jar back, each time I visited them, for the next 20 years. My father dutifully made packets for me to take along, even though I had plenty of stock. So, I could share fresh turmeric powder with my friends as well – the abundance of it all.
Now, I look at the few jars I have left and wonder if I should leave them as keepsakes, as this tradition of drying and grinding turmeric at our home in India has come to an end….