This Chorchori recipe is probably the most adaptable vegetable dish imaginable. I first came across a version of Chorchori at Veeraswamy. I say a version because there are as many versions as there are vegetable combinations. The basic rule is that you you use what you have to hand. For that reason I’m not going to give any other recipe details, as far as the vegetable content is concerned, than the weight (and even that isn’t written in stone). You can probably see from the photos that the Chorchori was part of a larger Indian meal I had cooked – the vegetable dish, in fact. So why, give the recipe for the support act, as some would see it, and not the prawn or lamb dish I made at the same meal? Well, for one, this dish is no sideshow. I’d happily give it centre stage and eat it with a bowl of rice and a simple dahl. And for another thing, the prawn dish, at least, wasn’t my recipe. It was from Simon Majumdar of Dos Hermanos. I’ve been meaning to try it since he posted it on his blog a few weeks ago and I’m glad I did. It does not disappoint.
2 1/2 – 3lb whatever vegetables you have around
Thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 tsp panch poran*
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp each of salt and sugar
Depending on the types of veg you have around when you decide to make Chorchori you will have to adapt how you prep them. One vegetable I would not advise (for anything) is globe artichokes. Take a look at the photo above in the centre. The large mound of debris in the foreground is the waste from 6 globe artichokes and the small amount on a little tray behind them is the useable part. I have since called Abel & Cole and had them removed from my weekly veg box delivery. Too much hassle for too little return! That said, I did use them in the chorchori rather than waste even the miniscule returns I got from my half a dozen artichokes. Wasting food is always wrong.
There is a set way to start this dish, which I’ll explain shortly, but after that the way you proceed depends on which type of veg you’re using. As a general rule, though, the hardier root vegetables go in first and then the others follow in descending order of how long they will take to cook. You won’t need to put in any water because the vegetables have enough liquid of their own and you want to keep all the flavour in the dish. You may want to steam some vegetables seperately and add them at the end to preserve their crispness and avoid creating a mushy texture. For example, I decided to steam my delightful artichoke hearts until they were just tender, chill them under cold running water and add them a few minutes before the end of cooking time. Also, I had three types of cabbage in all; half a January King, quarter of a Savoy and a couple of heads of spring greens. To vary how they contributed to the final dish I prepared them all differently. The spring greens I just shredded and added a few minutes before the end, the Savoy I cut into squares, steamed it, chilled it and added it with the artichokes. Finally, I cut the January King into wedges, leaving a tiny part of the core in each wedge to hold it together. I then rolled them in a little oil and a quarter of a tsp ground cumin and roasted them for about 20 mins each side in a medium oven. (If you have never roasted cabbage before you should try it, its a revelation).
Anyway, back to the beginning! In a large heavy bottomed pan pour a few tbsps of oil, put the heat on medium and add the panch poran. Turn your head away and listen. When you hear the seeds begin to pop throw in the ginger and cook until it becomes soft. Next add a chopped up onion and cook until soft – I actually used a fennel bulb instead on this occasion, simply because I had one that needed using up. Add the salt, sugar, chilli, turmeric, cumin and garam masala. Cook the spices and seasoning through for a minute ot two and then add in the longest-cooking vegetables, stir, cover tightly, turn down the heat and shake every now and again until it’s time to add the next vegetable. Carry on in this way until all your vegetables are in. If you’re wondering why the vinegar hasn’t been mentioned it’s because its a back up item – you use it if you notice at any point that your vegetables are sticking. Stir it in and it will get any stuck-on spices off the bottom of the pan and get things moving again. When your last-stage vegetables are going in, and by which I mean the ones that will literally take a 2-3 mins to cook or less (spinach, for example) this is the time to add any pre-steamed vegetables you have (and the roast cabbage in the case of this particular chorchori).
This amount gives a large pan full but it reheats beautifully.
*Panch Poran is an Indian mix of five seeds available from Indian grocers. Or, you could make your own: combine equal parts of nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds.