Monday, September 13, 2010

Mixed Vegetable Curry (Gajbaje)

In my ancestral place, any Ganesh Chaturthi celebration is incomplete without the staple dish - Gajbaje. It's a simple, nutritious dish with all the possible vegetables which you can think of. Primarily the vegetables which crop up in early September are used in abundance, hence more of gourds and pumpkins. This dish is also made in Goa, sometimes cooked with Sichuan Pepper (Teppal or Tirphal) or without it and is known as Khatkhate. In GSB Konkani parlance, its known as Gajbaje. This is a one pot dish and is quite easy to make.

Gajbaje is also making an appearance in wedding menus, important celebrations and family festive events. My Dad asked me if I am planning to make Gajbaje for Ganpati lunch, hence the idea struck me. This is his favorite dish and he enjoys the one made by my Mom for obvious reasons. Mom makes use of atleast 5 vegetables to make this dish - Ridge Gourd, Pumpkin, Raw Plantain, Potato, Yam, Radish, Ladies Finger, Bottle Gourd, etc. I made use of all Fall vegetables - Butternut Squash, Yellow Squash, Corn on the cob and Bottle Gourd. The buttery flavour of Butternut Squash bowled me over. I like to munch on this nutritious dish just on its own slurping it hot from a big bowl. I plan on making on many such One Pot dishes during winter like Valval, Undhiyo, Khatkhate (with Tirfhal).

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Vegetables (assorted) - 5-7 cups
** Primarily early Fall veggies - Corn, Butternut Squash,
Yellow Squash, Corn on the cob, Yam, Bottle Gourd, etc***
Grated coconut - 3 cups
Red Chillies (Byadgi) - 5-10
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Jaggery - 1 teaspoon
Tamarind pulp - 1 teaspoon

For Seasoning:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 6-7

Chop all the vegetables into 1/2" bite sized pieces. Bring them to boil in a huge pot with water good enough to immerse the vegetables, add little salt. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame. Cover with a lid and cook till partially done. On the side, roast red chillies in little oil separately for 2 minutes. Allow to cool. Grind to a coarse paste with grated coconut and tamarind. Add this paste to the cooked vegetables. Allow the gravy to cook along with the vegetables and cover with a lid. Adjust salt, add jaggery and water as desired. Cook till done and turn off flame. In a separate pan, heat ghee/oil, add mustard seeds and once they begin to pop, add curry leaves. Pour this seasoning on the curry, mix gently and cover with a lid. Serve hot as a side dish.

Note - Do not peel the skin of the vegetables. Retain some skin, otherwise vegetables will dissolve and disintegrate in the curry even before consumption. This curry is semi-dry but not too dry, hence do not make it too watery. I made a huge batch, reduce the quantity by half for a smaller batch.

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