For someone with such a strong affinity to carrot cake, it’s shocking when I tell people that I grew up hating the mostly orange, often red root vegetable. Something about its now-appealing earthy sweetness would trigger my gag reflex. The only time I ever ate it was if it was cooked down in a Sindhi-style carrot bhaji. Us sindhis are famous for cooking with tons of weird ingredients available only at our specialty stores or Ochiram Pasari – drumstick flowers (swanjre jo gul), vari (spicy dried dal dumplings), dried white mushrooms (dingri), the list goes on. Sai bhaji and Kadi chawar might be cooked in our kitchens the year round, but Carrot bhaji is a fall favourite in my home with a special place of pride, right up there with our Sindhi riff on Panjiri.
Two things are crucial for achieving a good carrot bhaji- a good bunch of seasonal green garlic and desi gajar or red carrots. These red carrots have a sweeter taste than the orange ones, and by cooking them with tomatoes, we try to achieve a balanced sweet-sour flavour that sings with the addition of the fresh garlic leaves. Few recipes preserve the integrity of a carrot and this is one of them. If you cook this with orange carrots, they’re good too, just not as sweet as its seasonal variation.
In the picture, I’ve served the sabzi with a Sindhi Gathri or achar made of little parcels- you can find the recipe for this here and thin buckwheat flour ‘dodas’ or simply spiced flatbreads, popular with Sindhis. You can serve this with rotis.
Sindhi Carrot Bhaji
Oil 1 tbsp
Ghee 1 tbsp
Carrots 500g, chopped into fine dices
Tomatoes 2 large, chopped
Green Garlic 1 small bunch, approximately 12 cloves worth, green stems chopped
Ginger 1” piece, grated
Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1/4 tsp
Ground Coriander Powder 1 tsp
Ground Cumin Powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Fresh Coriander for garnishing
In a pressure cooker, add the oil and the ghee and let it heat. Add in the chopped garlic, the and let it saute over a medium flame for a few minutes. To this, add the carrots and fry this mixture well for 4-5 minutes. Add in the turmeric and chilli powder, followed by the tomatoes and some salt to help break down the tomatoes. Cook this mixture on high till the tomatoes break down completely.
Add in the garlic greens, followed by the ground coriander and cumin powders. To this, add 2/3 cup of water and close the cooker. Pressure cook this till done- 4 to 5 whistles should suffice. When the pressure subsides and the cooker opens, stir vigorously so that the residual heat can help further break down some of the carrots.
Dry out any excess liquid and stop as soon as it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt. Your sabzi should taste slightly sweet but boast a majorly savoury taste.