GROWING up in the hills, the long and harsh winters would keep us confined indoors for months. There were few choices available in matters of food. One had to make do with potatoes and onions and some dried vegetables. This was a time when stuff chargrilled or baked in ash in the fireplace was treated as delicacy. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and chestnuts roasted in open fire would be paired with baingan and tamatar ka bharta or chokha. Recently, when a friend ‘inaugurated’ his fancy potable barbecue grill on the balcony of his new flat, these happy memories were rekindled.
Usually when a grill or roast is mentioned, the mind conjures up images of meaty delights. There are not many who have experienced the bliss that roasted vegetables can add to our life. We feel happy in sharing this recipe for roasted/pan-grilled vegetables. The vegetables retain their colours, textures and flavours. An invigorating hot salad!
Dried yellow pumpkin 250g
Brinjal (round) 200g
Sweet potatoes 200g
Sweet bell peppers 50g
Onion (large) 1
Cumin seeds’ powder 1/2tsp
Red chilli (dried) 1/2tsp
Bleck peppercorn 1/2tsp
Dried ginger powder 1/2tsp
Fennel powder 1/2tsp
Pomegranate seeds (dried) 1 tsp
Dried mint leaves (crushed) 1tsp
Black rock salt 1 pinch
Peel sweet potatoes, scrap carrots and cut these into bite-sized pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Cut zucchini and pumpkin into thin slices, length-wise, without removing their skin. Slice the tomatoes into thin discs. Remove stem from brinjal and slice into slightly thick discs, like in bhaja. Peel and cut onion into thin round slices. Core bell pepper and cut into large pieces in any shape. Heat a thick bottomed pan or iron skillet over high flame and spread a thin layer of oil on it. Put the vegetables in the following order — sweet potatoes and then pumpkin. Cover pan and let these vegetables soften for 5 to 6 minutes on medium flame. Now add sliced onions and carrots. Do not stir, raise the flame to high for a minute, then reduce to medium low. Add zucchini and bell papers. Cook uncovered for three minutes. Tomatoes go in the end. Cook these on high heat till they release their juices to moisten the roasted vegetables in a fresh sauce. Sprinkle over the coarsely pounded cumin seeds, chilli and peppercorns along with dry mint leaves, pomegranate seeds and salt. Dried ginger and fennel powders, mixed with honey, provide a delicious dressing. If you like a more pungent tang you could replace this dressing with kasundi (mustard sauce).
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