Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Leaves of Radish- A Rustic Stir Fry

Snowy white, fresh radishes are in season and the vegetable markets are full of them. Set in piles, these radishes resemble little white mountains from the front. Go around the back of these mountains and you will see little green mountains made of lush, crisp radish leaves.

I find myself a bit different from most people I know, in terms of a taste palette. A good kind of different. I grew up in a household where kids weren't allowed the privilege of moody meals. Not that I made a fuss, it wouldn't have made a difference if I did, except when sick. And today I am thankful that I didn't grow up to be a picky eater; I dread the scenario where I would have missed many brilliant flavors.

My region of India is known for its production of rice. We are big time rice eaters, as is apparent from my love for rice. But what many people do not know about Chhattisgarh is that it is also home to numerous varieties of green leafy vegetables. I know most of them and yet come across many new leaves that I haven't heard of before and don't know how to cook. The ones I know about is because I come from an old line of dwellers of the state and have spent my entire life being fed humble, rustic editions of these green delights that are the recipes of my grandma, now 90.

Living in a town or state doesn't mean that one will know all about its cultures and traditions and secret recipes. But I pity those who don't try to learn and remain ignorant. I used to be very surprised when I was young that many of my friends didn't know about most of the recipes I so fondly adored. I learned later it was because their moms had come from different cultures and so they didn't know the magic of those recipes. But then, my mom came from an altogether different lifestyle too, and I am glad that she adapted to her new surroundings. She learned all that my grandmother taught her in the kitchen and also mixed her own style to it. It is so endearing to watch my mom ask my grandmother for instructions for some old recipe even today. My upbringing matters to me. I do not want any part of my culture, however small, to slip into oblivion. I may not be able to help every cause, but I will do what I can and this recipe here is one such effort.

I picked the leaves of radish for this post today for two main reasons. One, radish is in season, and two, it is available everywhere in India and elsewhere so you cannot nag me about availability. It is rather a very humble recipe but since radish leaves are usually thrown away, the fact that it is a recipe dedicated to the leaves makes it interesting and different.

The flavor profile of radish leaves isn't much different from that of the radish itself, sharp and tangy, slightly bitter too. The leaves are coarse and cannot be used in in a salad or in a sandwich as such. I do however hope that this recipe will multi task as a stuffing for parathas and sandwiches. I enjoyed it today with my staple diet, chapati and dal and of course rice. Every time I have something like this, it gets me in a similar mood as today and I feel proud of my rustic-chic palette that I acquired from my home and from living in different cities in the country. But most of all I think it was possible only because I am open to various flavors without bias and prejudice. Everything I can eat, I will eat and I will remember.

I hope you enjoy this recipe today and understand what meaning such rustic preparations hold in our cultures and why they must be saved from fading away with time.


Fresh radish leaves- 250 gm
Radish- 4 nos
Garlic- 8-10 cloves
Dried whole red chilies- 5 nos
Red chilly powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 3/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Gram flour- 4-5 tbsp
Oil- 4-5 tsp
Salt to taste


Wash and chop radish leaves.

Peel radishes and chop into slices of half moons, or quarter moons if you like.

Fill a medium pot with water and boil chopped radish and leaves in it till they are half cooked.
Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds in it. When seeds crackle, add chopped garlic and dried red chillies broken into pieces.

When garlic starts to brown add all powdered spices and fry for about 10 seconds. Take care not to burn the garlic.

Now add half cooked and drained radish and leaves to the pan. Add salt and mix well to coat.

Let fry for 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring.

Add gram floor and mix well.

Fry for another 10 minutes or until the preparation is all dry and kind of crumbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature as a side.