Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vegetable Jalfrezi on Bombay Root Rostis

When people ask me what I miss about London, the answer comes fairly easily: Indian food. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Thai food. And you can get very good Indian food in Bangkok. But I used to live on
Tooting High Street
in South West London which is a small oasis of South Asian food and I had all the samosas, curries and ingredients I could ever wish for – and I wished a lot! So this is a nostalgic one for me.

In this dish the curry is served on root veg rostis rather than rice. The recipe is based on the popular side dish Bombay Aloo, which combines potatoes with various spices. I couldn’t decide which curry to put on top of the rostis so I did some research to see which is the most popular. I was a little surprised with the results. I was confident it would be tikka masala – a dish you find all over the UK but oddly a lot less so in restaurants in India. Either that or the korma – which is lovely when done properly but all too often over-creamed and under-spiced so it comes out looking like baby sick.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find an article in the Times of India announcing that, “the jalfrezi -- a hot curry with green chillies, peppers, onion and tomatoes -- has emerged as the most popular choice in UK's 10,000-odd Indian restaurants, piping chicken tikka masala as the nation's favourite dish.” Jalfrezi is an awesome dish – firey, fresh and tomatoey and it’s great to see that people in the UK are exploring Indian menus a bit more.

The fun thing with this dish is that you can adjust it to your tastes – use any vegetables you like and turn the heat up or down by changing the quantity of chilli. Enjoy!

Time: 1hr 30 mins
Rating: Medium. There’s a fair bit of chopping and grating and the rostis need a bit of TLC to make sure they don’t burn or fall apart
Serves: 2-3 people 


For the root vegetable rosti
180g beetroot (about 1 ½ beets)
250g sweet potato (about 1 large potato)
250g potato (about 1 large potato)
½ onion
1 tsp garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 egg
1tbsp flour
black pepper  & salt
vegetable oil, for shallow-frying

For the vegetable jalfrezi
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 large carrot
100g  green beans
100g broccoli
200g (weight before peeling) pumpkin or butternut squash
1medium red pepper
½ onion
2 tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 green chilies
2cm piece fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Juice 1 lime
Fresh coriander to garnish
Optional: 2 tbsp natural yoghurt


  1. Start by preparing the veg for the curry. Dice the pumpkin, carrots and red pepper into chunks about 1cm in size. Chop the beans into 1cm pieces and cut the broccoli into small florets. Deseed and finely chop the chillies. Finely chop the ginger and garlic too. Cut the tomatoes up into quarters.
  2. Now you’re ready to start making the curry. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over a medium heat and add green chillies, garlic, ginger and onions. Stir-fry until the onions are translucent (about 2mins).
  3. Add all of the dry spice powders and salt. Mix well and cook for about half a minute stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and 2 tbsp water and cook for a couple of minutes to soften them.
  4. Now, add the pumpkin and carrots. You’ll start cooking these first because these take the longest to cook. Cook for five minutes over a medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  5. While your vegetables are cooking you can get started on your rostis. Firstly peel the beetroots. It’s up to you whether you want to peel the sweet potato and potato. In any case, be sure to remove any ‘eyes’. Coarsely grate the peeled beetroot, the potatoes and sweet potatoes into a bowl.
  6. Back to your curry – after cooking the carrots and pumpkin for five minutes add the green beans and broccoli and cook for a further five minutes, stirring regularly. You can use this time to carry on grating for your rostis.
  7. Then add the red pepper last – these don’t take long to cook and you don’t want them turning too soft. Also squeeze in the lime juice and 4 tbs water. The sweetness of the red pepper and the sourness of the lime will counter act some of the spice and cool the curry down a bit.
  8. Put the lid on the curry and cook on low heat, for a further 15 minutes until the masala mixes well into the vegetables and they are nice and soft. Check on it from time to time and stir regularly.
  9. While the curry is simmering you can finish your rostis. Once you have finished grating, put the vegetables into a sieve and rinse them with cold water to remove the starch. Then squeeze out as much water as you can, and return them to a mixing bowl.
  10. Finely chop the onion and add to the mixture. Then, using a wooden spoon, stir in the egg, flour, the salt, pepper and dry spices.
  11. Time to fry your rostis. Heat the oil for shallow-frying in a large, heavy-based frying pan. About 2-3 tbsp per batch should be plenty.  Form the root vegetable mixture into small flat rostis and fry until crisp and golden on both sides. It’s up to you how thick you want them. Thinner rostis will be crispier and fatter ones will be soft. Make sure the oil is nice and hot when then go in, then reduce the heat to medium to let them cook. Don’t turn them over often as you could break them. They will take about 5 mins on each side.
  12. You will probably need to do a few batches. Once the first batch is ready, place on a piece of kitchen roll to remove excess fat and put in the oven or under the grill to keep warm while you make the next batch.
  13. By now your curry should be ready. Taste it – if you would like to cool it down a little, stir in 2 tbsp natural yoghurt, though this is optional.
  14. Plate up – place two rostis on a plate and spoon some curry over the top. Garnish with fresh coriander.
Don’t feel constrained by my list of vegetables. Use whichever ones you like, such as:
  • Green peas
  • Okra
  • Green peppers
  • Spinach
  • Aubergines
  • Caulflower
  • Courgettes
  • Or even add some paneer…

Just remember when you cook them to add the tougher veg which take longer to cook first, and the softer ones towards the end.

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