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Pakistani Cooking: Turnip
Sheljum ki bugia (boogeea), or “turnips in rounds” is a Pakistani dish that you either love or hate. Basically you have to love turnips to love it. If you love turnips and spices, then you’re set. Another home-style meal that you will not see on a restaurant menu and satisfies that spot that only home-style food can. This dish can be cooked with the turnip greens as well as the turnip itself, so if you grow them yourself, or can buy them with the greens still attached then that is best.
A quick note on Pakistani Cooking:
There aren’t dishes that are called curries in Pakistan, not really. The closest is a kadhi, which is a spicy yoghurt-based dish with pakoras in it. Most dishes are called salins and that ranges from soupy “curry” like dishes to dry dishes, like the sheljum ki bugia recipe below. I don’t know why it is so, but it is. Oh, and if you’re in India, don’t think of asking for a salin, because there’s no such thing, even if the dish is exactly the same. Back in Australia I knew a couple, she was Pakistani, he was Indian and it was a long-running “argument” about salin vs curry…anyway, I digress. So turnips…I like ‘em…do you?
4 to 5 turnips, with green tops if possible, washed and peeled
3 tablespoon oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger
3 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 medium tomatoes, pureed
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garam masala
Cut the turnips in half, lengthwise, then slice into 1/8 inch half-rounds. Shred the turnip greens, leaving the stalky pieces aside (good for chickens if you have them, or the compost).
Heat oil in a pot and fry onions until edges brown. Mash garlic, ginger and cumin in a mortar and pestle and add to onion. Fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add turnip rounds and mix stir. Add salt and mix. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while to avoid sticking.
Add pureed tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder and chili powder and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add turnip greens and 1 cup water. Turn heat on low and cover pot. Cook covered for 15 to 20 minutes or until turnip is tender. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. Add more water if necessary.
Remove lid from pot and turn heat up high. Add sugar to help counteract the slightly bitter taste turnip can have sometimes. Stir continuously until all water has evaporated and mixture begins to fry.
Fry for 5 minutes longer. Add garam masala and stir to combine. Fry 3 to 4 minutes more. Check seasoning before serving and adjust as needed.
Serve with rice or naan.
Tips and notes
The turnip gets quite mashed up by the end, so it loses most of the pretty rounds.
This dish is great with a yogurt raita as an accompaniment. The most basic raita is yogurt, salt and a teaspoon or so of cumin seeds.
This dish freezes well.