My Granny’s Turnips

My Granny’s Turnips

Everybody hated turnips in boarding school (Alexandra School, Amritsar, India) where we used to get turnips with lamb during winters. Most of the girls slept hungry the night this appetite buster was served for dinner.

But when I would eat turnips cooked by my grandma & my mom, I loved them. I don’t have the exact recipe but the memory still retains in my taste buds — salty, gingery, sweet & sour with cilantro.

So, a few weeks ago, with a brave heart I tried my hand at the way my granny and mom used to conjure up this dish. The white and purple colors looked very inviting. Luckily my mother-in-law, who is an excellent cook, was visiting with me (from India) at that time and was happy to pitch in. She gave me her own tip — to add little yogurt to cut the bitterness of turnips. I thus embarked on this task of re-creating a family recipe.

The recipe is by approximation.

3 – 4 large turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 – 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, diced
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup yogurt, beaten with a whisk to make creamy and smooth
2 medium tomatoes, diced
¼ tsp. cinnamon powder
A handful of dried cranberries
½ tbsp. sesame seeds
½ tbsp. freshly ground coriander seeds
¼ to ½ tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
Red chili powder & salt to taste
A handful of fresh, chopped cilantro
Lemon juice to taste
Roti or naan bread
Raw onions seasoned with some salt and lemon

In a pressure cooker, warm the coconut oil over medium heat, add the diced onion, and fry until transparent. Add the diced garlic and ginger. After 1 to 2 minutes add the turmeric and yogurt. Keep stirring on and off.

Add the diced tomatoes, cinnamon, dried cranberries, sesame seeds, coriander, black pepper, red chilli powder and salt to taste. Mix well. Add the turnip cubes with ½ cup water. Pressure cook this to full pressure for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes, until it’s safe to open the lid of the pressure cooker. Add a handful of fresh, chopped cilantro and lemon juice to taste. Mash slightly with the ladle. Serve with roti or naan bread and raw onions seasoned with some salt and lemon.

The taste was almost like my granny’s. My mother- in- law loved the recipe and complimented me. Coming from her, it definitely meant a lot, as she is quite a picky eater.

You try, too!

About the Author(s)

Bela Dhillon, MD

Dr. Bela Dhillon is a physician (Internal Medicine), originally from India & believes that health care starts in the kitchen. She wants her patients to choose food over medicine. She is student at the Whole Health Medicine Institute of Dr. Lissa Rankin.

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