Sankranti Special! Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian Bhogichi bhaji is a moreish winter harvest festival in a pan!
I am not a winter person at all and wish I could hibernate until spring arrives. But a whiff of this Bhogichi bhaji, Tilachi Vadi- A Makar Sankranti Special Sweet! and Microwave Sesame Seed Laddus in 1½ minutes! would wake me up. It is that good, folks!
The festival of Sankranti is celebrated all over India, with different names. With respect to food, there are also commonalities like the fact that jaggery (gul) and sesame seeds (til) are eaten during this festival season. It makes perfect sense because according to Ayurveda, both jaggery and sesame seeds generate heat in the body….just what we need for winter, right?
Winter harvest vegetables are celebrated in various savory dishes. In Maharashtra, one of the dishes made is Bhogichi Bhaji, eaten on Bhogi day with bajri and til bhakri. Bhogichi bhaji itself has many recipes and names.
I have chosen to make Bhogichi bhaji that my family would relish. I had to use whatever veggies I could easily get here in snowy Boston this week. Also I used my cast iron pan because I believe everything tastes better in it, but you may use any pan of your choice.
Substitutions- I substituted some frozen veggies, where I did not get fresh ones, used shredded carrots as my family is not fond of cooked carrots and used the buttery Fordhook lima beans for ‘paavtey’…mmmm that was a great substitution! On the other hand, when I could not find fresh or frozen ‘suran root’ I used yucca instead. I like the taste of yucca but did not particularly care for it in this recipe. So would not use it the next time.
And just like I do for the traditional Kandamool- my root vegetable stew inspired by the global Rishis:) I make in early fall, I chose the proportions according to the veggies we like.
Shopping for the various ingredients and the prep work does take some effort and time, but the Bhogichi Bhaji cooks fast and once you taste it, you will find all the effort worthwhile….I assure you!
For the tempering-
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
- 6~7 fresh curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)
- 6 baby potatoes, cut into 4 leaving the stem end intact
- ½ cup fresh suran root (aka elephant’s foot), peeled and diced into ½ inch chunks
- 4~5 pieces of peeled drumstick ( I used frozen, defrosted)
- 1 tablespoon raw peanuts, soaked in water
- ¼ cup fresh harbhare/ fresh green gram (about ½ cup of the unpeeled ones)
- Water as needed to cook vegetables
- 4 baby eggplants
- 10~12 flat green beans /shravan ghevda
- 1 carrot cut into 4~5 pieces (I used ½ cup grated carrot)
- 3/8 cup lima beans (I used Fordhook lima beans)
- 5~6 frozen pearl red onions, defrosted ( aka sambar onions)
- 1 small plum tomato, finely diced
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons roasted coriander seed powder
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seed powder
- 1 teaspoon goda masala
- 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, powdered
- 3 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds, powdered
- 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (extracted after soaking 1 tablespoon dry tamarind in water)
- 1 heaped tablespoon jaggery
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated coconut (I used frozen, defrosted)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
To Make the Bhogichi Bhaji-
- For the prep work, soak the peanuts in water. In another bowl, soak the tamarind in water .Roast the sesame seeds and powder them. Powder the roasted peanuts. Prep all veggies. Deforst the frozen vegetables and 2 tablespoons of the grated coconut. Set aside.
- To cook the Bhogichi Bhaji- heat oil over medium heat, in a flat bottomed vessel or a deep pan. (I used my deep cast iron pan)
- Add the mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to splutter, add the rest of ingredients for the tempering in the order listed above.
- Add the potatoes, suran root, drumsticks, raw peanuts and harbhare. Add enough water to cook the vegetables, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggplant, ghevda/ green beans, carrot, lima beans, pearl onions and salt to taste. Add the coriander and cumin seed powders, the goda masala and peanut powder. Add water as needed. I wanted a little gravy to the dish so added about ¾ cup water at this point. Cover and let cook another 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender cooked.
- Remove lid, add the finely diced tomato, ground sesame seed powder, the tamarind pulp and the jaggery. Check for salt and add if needed. Stir, cover and cook for 2 more minutes to assimilate flavors.
- Remove lid, top with the fresh grated coconut and the cilantro leaves.
- Cook vegetables in order of the cooking time required for them, starting with the ones that take the longest to cook.
- The sesame seed and peanut powders act as a thickener so the water you add when cooking turns into a nice gravy.
Enjoy! like I said before, this Bhogichi Bhaji needs some labor of love but once you taste it you will know that it was all worthwhile!
I am making a double batch next time 🙂