We came back, rested, rejuvenated and gung-ho about even mundane stuff after a short trip to Bangalore in the last week of January. Excessive spirit sometimes can tire one out. Since then upto a week back I was busy seeing the ‘get-together’ pictures over and over again, re-living those memories.
Winter left early and Spring has already set the beat to the start of a sunny Summer as many colourful vegetables start gracing our markets. My kitchen sees a ‘stir-fry marathon’ at this time of the year. Tender clean vegetables get scrubbed, snipped and dunked in a pool of clear water, drained and patted dry at top speed. The wide wok is heated with some oil, seasoned with aromatic spices and here’s where actual skill comes into play. You must add a pinch of salt to let the juices ooze, and a hint of oil if needed, cover and cook, check now and then lest the vegetables lose their shape and then keep stirring and frying till they are just done to your liking. You could go the easier way and just add more oil in the beginning but this way you really save a lot of unnecessary fat. Adjust seasonings and there you go!
Some months back I noticed bright green beans that were very thin, long and rat-tailed – at least that’s what I assumed they were till I picked a bunch and smelt them. It was different and new to me. I asked the ‘thela-waala’ what they were and he replied ‘moolachya shenga‘. My knowledge of Marathi is pretty basic so I understood they were something to do with mooli or radishes. I asked him how I should use it and he was the one who suggested that I just stir-fry it with some potatoes (what else?!). I liked the flavour so I bought a thick bunch and took a photograph. The stir fry was so good that I did not have much left for a picture. Since then ‘pod radishes’ or ‘java radishes’ or ‘aerial radishes’ have gone and joined my list ‘love at first taste’ items. So many names – you pick your favourite name for it.
Yesterday I spied them again and could not resist picking up a bunch. Today we stir-fried and had them for lunch. This time I also made it a point to take pictures before we consumed them. If you like radish I am sure you will love its shenga too (the stem of radish). In Hindi it is called ‘moongre’.
Recipe: Moolachya shenga chi bhaji
Time: 10-15 minutes if the pod radishes are very tender
Yield: Serves 3
Pod Radishes / Aerial Radishes / Moongre /Moolachyashenga – 250g
Medium sized potatoes – 2
Cumin seeds /jeera – 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder /Haldi – 1/2 tsp.
Red Chilli powder / Kuti lal mirch – 1 tsp. (As per taste)
Oil – 2 tbsp.
Chop or snip pod radishes into inch long pieces.
Peel and chop potatoes lengthwise into fry sized wedges.
Place both the vegetables in separate colanders. Rinse and set aside to drain.
Meanwhile heat a wide wok with the oil. Splutter cumin seeds when hot and add the potatoes. Add a hint of salt. Stir fry for two minutes. Cover and cook till potatoes sweat a little and are half cooked. Check often and stir if needed so that the vegetable is not burnt.
Add the drained pod radishes. Add a little more salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Stir for two minutes to mix the vegetables. Cover and cook till potatoes are done but firm and pod radishes are softer but still retain a bite.
Mix lightly and serve with rotis or rasam and rice.
Tip: Do not use pod radishes that are not tender. They turn stiff.