Someone pinch me, my family is actually calling dibs on the turnip curry leftovers.
If you’ve struggled to convince your family to eat turnips, then this turnip curry recipe will save the day. And if you yourself are in doubt as to whether turnips can actually be tasty, then this shalgam ki bhujia will make you a believer. I literally tested this recipe five times, because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and my family HAPPILY ate it each time.
I’m still in awe.
Turnips have a very distinct flavor that’s a bit difficult to work with, but using the magical powers of Desi ghee, I found a way to tame this taproot into tasty submission! (Don’t worry vegans, I’ve got you covered, read on for vegan substitution info.)
Psssh, move over Elon Musk. I think we both know who the REAL innovator is here.
Turnip Curry Walkthrough
I want to walk you through this turnip curry journey to make sure that you manage to extract the maximum flavor from this dish.
I’m serious guys, technique is everything with this guy.
First, peel and slice your turnips. It doesn’t matter how you slice them, just make sure they’re thin so they can tenderize faster.
Next, put them in a small saucepan and fill with enough water so that the level comes up to about halfway up the turnips. Cover and cook on medium-high until it comes to a boil, then decrease flame until it’s at a simmer. While the turnips are cooking, you can start chopping up your ingredients for the curry.
Keep checking on the turnips every once in a while, because you don’t want them to burn. The turnips are ready when a fork or butter knife goes through them without any resistance. Ideally, the turnips are cooked just as the water runs out, but I always end up having water left over. Drain the excess water.
Now here’s where the magic happens.
Add a tablespoon of desi ghee. (Vegans, you can use coconut oil here or make this vegan version of ghee.) Now, mash up your turnips so that the lovely ghee gets incorporated into the turnips. This is going to give this turnip curry a sort of Western, mashed-potato-like flavor.
Yes, I’m drooling over turnips. Someone call my mother ten years ago and tell her that her picky eating daughter will be publicly proclaiming a love for turnips. She’d be so happy.
Or, you know, she’d call you crazy and hang up on you.
Eh, on second thought, you might want to hold off on that phone call.
Okay so now, back to the curry. In a separate pot, heat your oil, add your cumin and wait for it to sizzle/crackle. Next, add your (FINELY chopped) onions. Fry these guys at medium heat and keep them moving to make sure they brown evenly.
When the onions are LIGHT golden, make sure you reduce your flame and then add your ginger and garlic pastes. (Note: Pastes brown fast, that’s why we are putting them in so late in this recipe. If you’re using freshly minced ginger and garlic, then it might be better to add them just as the onion is beginning to brown.) Fry until the masala is golden brown and the garlic no longer gives off a “raw” smell.
Add salt, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Fry until the “raw” scent of the turmeric goes away – what this means is that the pungent scent you get just when your turmeric hits the pan will mellow out a bit. Then add the coriander powder and fry for a few seconds.
I know I keep talking about this “raw” smell of ingredients. I explain a bit more about this and how to get the optimal color and flavor from your saalan in my FREE ebook: Pakistani Home Cooking Guide. You should totally check it out. Just sayin’.)
Now, add the mashed turnips to the pot and increase heat to medium. Fry until they’re fully incorporated into the curry and any excess water dries up.
Now, about the tomatoes, I have totally taken the tomatoes up to 160g (about a small and medium tomato) and the curry was still totally awesome, so it’s up to your family’s preference. Also, for the curry in the photograph, I chopped the tomatoes a bit chunkier because I wanted the tomato bits showing. If your family isn’t into that, make sure you chop them finely so that they’ll dissolve completely into the curry.
Whatever you’ve decided about the tomatoes, add them to your pot and fry until they start to break down.
Decrease flame to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have completely broken down and the curry is homogeneous. Don’t wait for the oil to separate because very little oil is going to come out of this.
For the finishing touch, add the black pepper powder, chopped green chilli and chopped coriander leaves. Mix to incorporate and serve. I like to add one or two coriander leaves just at the end for garnish. I also really LOVE eating this with yogurt.
And delicious shalgam ki bhujia aka turnip curry is SERVED! I hope I was able to explain this in a way that made it easy (and not intimidating) for you first time turnip cookers out there. Let me know what you think, and if it changed your (or your family’s) mind about turnips.
Here’s to taking on taproots and showing them who’s boss!
Turnip Curry (Shalgam ki Bhujia)
- 1/2 kg turnips
- 1 tbsp Desi ghee (vegans can substitute with coconut oil)
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin (zeera)
- 180 g (~2 medium) onions finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
- 130 g (~2 small) tomatoes chopped (you can take this up to 160g if you love tomatoes)
- 1/8 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 green chilli chopped
- coriander leaves handful
Peel and slice turnips, boil/steam in a small pot or saucepan until tender. (A fork should be able to pass through without resistance.)
Drain excess water from turnips (if any) and add Desi ghee (or coconut oil, if substituting.) Mash with fork or potato masher until ghee is well incorporated and turnips have no lumps.
In a separate pot, heat oil. Add the cumin and wait for it to start sizzling/crackling then add the onions.
Fry onions on medium heat until they turn a light golden brown.
Reduce flame and add ginger paste and garlic paste. Fry until masala is golden brown and garlic no longer gives off a "raw" smell.
Add salt, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Fry until the "raw" scent of the turmeric goes away. Then add the coriander powder and fry for a few seconds.
Add the mashed turnips to the pot and increase heat to medium. Fry until incorporated and excess water dries up.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry until they start to break down.
Decrease flame to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have completely broken down and the curry is homogeneous.
Add black pepper powder, chopped green chilli and chopped coriander leaves. Mix to incorporate.
(Optional) Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with yogurt.
If you're confused about all of this talk about the "raw" smell of certain ingredients and spices, I explain more about this in my Pakistani Home Cooking Guide.
I am drooling too!! I didn’t know turnips could do that! haha. Loved the description of the process of making the curry…made it so approachable. And the photography on this post is outstanding. Lovely use of light and mood. I’m making this recipe as soon I as I get my hands on some turnips!!. Thanks for taking the time to test it so often, Becky! Now I know why all of your recipes taste outstanding!
See? Turnip fever is spreading, can you feel it? Go forth, my friend and disseminate the turnip love. Let me know if you get a chance to try this, I’d love to hear what your take on it is.
Jazakallahukhairan for your kind words, you’re the best!
Oh, my goodness!! I think you just re-invented Shaljam!! For real, this was the best turnip curry I’ve ever made or had. Trust me, Becky, I don’t try your recipes just because you’re my friend. Your recipes really are outstanding! My daughter loved this too!! So easy to follow. I’m trying to pinpoint what made it so spectacular…Not sure if it was the freshly ground black pepper + green chili at the end, the ghee, or that the turnip was fully mashed. Whatever it was, it worked!. Thank you!!
Alhamdulillah! PRAISE THE LORD for turnip curry. So glad you guys liked it and that your daughter was into it too – when a kid eats vegetables happily, the world becomes a happier place – or at least, the dinner table becomes a happier place!
I am writing to you from Brooklyn NY. I got way too many turnips in my local farm share so I started to look up recipes and yours came up. I have literally never cooked anything curry related before….AND this was awesome!!! I loved it so much and will be eating leftovers. A better way to use turnips than I have ever seen. Thank you!
Thanks so much for making my day with your lovely comment! I’m so glad you loved it. If you want to try another popular veggie recipe of mine and have some potatoes on hand, check out my Pakistani Pakora recipe. I think you’ll like it.
Add a teaspoon of sugar to the turnips
It elevated the taste to another level.
Just like when you caramelize onions… turnips and sugar are best friends!
I love this recipe. It’s simple and I are not overflavoured and a hit with the family. Highly recommend this recipe over the 8 cooking books.
2022 and I made this again because this curry may be the only way I can enjoy turnips. lol. Miss you and duas for you, Becky!