Food talk
In makhani subziyaan, the spicing makes the humdrum mélange of vegetables a delicacy, writes Pushpesh Pant

The prefix or more often the suffix makhani by popular usage has become exclusive to kali daal a.k.a as daal Bukhara or maahdi daal. We have long laboured the point that the word refers to buttery—satin smooth—texture and should not be taken to mean a license to add artery-choking dollops of butter and cream to this Indian culinary classic.

Imagine our surprise when recently at a roadside dhaba we encountered makhani subziyaan—mixed vegetables in their latest avatar. The gravy had a thick sauce-like consistency, the spicing was mild and while the appearance was not too exciting, the superb taste more than made up for the lack of eye appeal.

The friend accompanying us thought that the innovative dish recalled the Southy aviali but for us it revived memories of baoli handi more than anything else.

Legend has it that in days gone by, the slightest whiff of summer in the breeze sent the delicate nawabs of Awadh into a tizzy. The royal bawarchis were summoned to prepare seasonal delicacies to beat the heat. Baoli handi, an exceptional ‘coolant’, belongs to that repertoire. According to foodlore, this light ‘non-veg’ beauty was cooked for picnics organised in well-shaded step wells (baoli).

It goes without saying that in the makhani subziyaan rendering the boneless cubes of meat are dispensed with. It is the spicing that sublimates the humdrum m`E9lange of vegetables—usually a quick frying pan fix to satisfy a not too fussy or demanding customer—to the status of a delicacy. What made us most happy was that the texture of the gravy justified the epithet—creamy without being fat-laden—makhani indeed.

Chef’s special


Baby potatoes 12

Floret broccoli 1 large
Carrots (3/4" cubes/ rounds or

diamonds) 60 gm
Turnips (3/4" diamonds) 60gm

Squash (3/4" diamonds) 60gm

Beans (3/4" diamonds) 8

Capsicum medium cored and

cut into1/8th 1
Ghee/ butter 120 gm

Green cardamom 6
Cloves 4
Cinnamon (1") 2stick

Bay leaf 2 stick

Onions (chopped) 200gm

Garlic paste (strained) 31/2tsp

Ginger paste (strained) 31/2tsp

Dahi (thick set and not sour) 11/4cup

Coriander powder 1tbsp

Kashmiri deghim mirch powder 11/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Black pepper

(freshly roasted & coarsely ground) `BEtsp

Cardamom powder `BD tsp

Mace powder 1/4 tsp

Lemon juice 1 tbsp


Whisk dahi with red chillies, turmeric and salt. Blanch the carrots, broccoli and beans in salted boiling water for three minutes, then drain and refresh in cold water. Now heat ghee in a handi, add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves, and stir over medium heat until the cardamom begins to change colour. Add onions, stir-fry until translucent, add the garlic and ginger pastes, continue to stir-fry until onions are light golden. Then add vegetables, increase to high heat, and stir-fry for three-four minutes to sear. Lower the flame. Add the dahi slowly in small steady instalments, stirring briskly all the while to ensure that it does not curdle. Continue cooking for about another five minutes till the raw smell of dahi is not there. Just before serving sprinkle pepper, cardamom and mace powders, stir, remove and adjust the seasoning, stir-in lemon juice. Enjoy with rice or roti.