While cool, crispy salads are great for hot summer evenings – my desire to eat them plummets right around mid-October, when temperatures begin to drop. By November, nothing makes me happier than cuddling up with a hot, creamy, fat laden bowl of soup after battling the cold winds to get home…
The solution? Delicious, curried, pan roasted, winter vegetables…
Why? It’s a vegetable dish with enough hot roasted potatoes to give it a creamy, “comfort” food taste but with enough fibrous vegetables to still be healthy. Each serving has only about 4.5 grams of fat – yet the nutty, sweet smell of ghee and simmered spices makes the dish feel quite decadent.
The secret is the use of the cast iron skillet which gives the vegetables a distinct “roasted” texture and the finishing touch – “panchforon” sautéed in ghee. Panchforon is a culinary herb seed mix made up of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, black mustard and nigella seeds. Adding panchforon sautéed in ghee at the end of a cooking process is a technique commonly used in south Asian cooking which adds a wonderfully aromatic, finishing touch right at the end, enhancing the gastronomic experience.
Finally, the main reason why this dish is one of my top go-to recipes…
Besides checking the box for taste and being healthy, it takes only about a half hour from prep to the dinner table. Thus, I can cook this meal after coming home from work, allowing me to then go to my karate class and come back to a freshly prepared dinner. It also refrigerates and reheats surprisingly well, making it a great option for meal prepping.
This dish is inspired by my mother and her version of “Niramish” – a curried vegetable stew that she cooked on cold winter days and served with freshly made puffed Roti (Bengali Flatbread). She usually served this for breakfast on particularly cold days when thick, heavy fog cloaked Dhaka city and it was really hard to wake up and go to school. The nutty smell of the ghee and simmering panchforon inspired me to get ready quickly and rush to the dining table before my brother beat me to it and ate it all.
I really hope you enjoy creating and trying this dish – I would love to hear your comments below!
Pan-Roasted Curried Winter Vegetables
- Heavy skillet, preferably cast iron
Step 1: Prepare the Oil
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 med onion sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 inch ginger minced
Step 2: Add Spices
- 1/2 cup water or more as needed
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne optional – to make the dish spicier
- 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes optional – to make the dish very spicy
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
Step 2: Cook Vegetables
- 1/2 pound small new potatoes
- 2 cups butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups egg plant cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 medium head cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 large plum tomato chopped into 6 pieces
- 4 green chillies optional
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 tbsp ghee optional, or use olive oil
- 1 tsp panchforon
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil on medium high in a cast iron skillet. Once the oil is hot (about 3 minutes), add the garlic, ginger and onions and saute until transparent.
- Add a half cup of water and add the spices one at time and let simmer until the oil separates and rise to the top (about 2 minutes). Note: the spiciness of the dish can be increased through the addition of cayenne and red pepper flakes at this time.
- Add the denser vegetables like the potatoes, eggplant and squash, mix with the spices and cover. Allow the vegetables to cook for at least 8-12 minutes until they have a chance to soften. Once soft add the remaining vegetable stir with the exception of the peas and coriander and cover. If some of the vegetables stick to the skillet add another half cup of water to help them roast and steam. Reduce the heat and allow the vegetables to marinate in the spices and roast through. Add the green peas and stir.
- In a separate small skillet heat the ghee over medium heat (about 2 minutes). Once hot add the panchforon and saute quickly for no more than a minute since panchforon tends to burn easily. Add the panch foron and ghee mixture to the vegetables and stir. Garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves.
- Serve with white basmati rice or heated flatbread. The dish is also particularly delicious eaten alone with a twist of lime.
- Substitute for Panchforon – you can use sliced onions and/or garlic. Reduce starchy vegetables to manage carb content.
- Reduce fat content by dry roasting the panchforon or using less ghee.
- The nutrition facts below are estimates from www.verywellfit.com. The serving size assumes eight servings per person.