Friday, December 19, 2008

As The World Turnips

Spicy Braised Turnips with Leeks

Until today, I would have thought of "leftover turnips" as something Harry Potter's relatives would make him eat while he was still living under the stairs, but that's what I have for lunch and, frankly, I'm quite excited by this.

Mom once said that if not for the Irish side of the family, I might never have tasted a turnip. I think this is true for turnips in general; unless you grow up eating them, they will likely remain one of the enigmatic root vegetables you see at the supermarket, but never buy. Indeed, when I brough a turnip up to the register once, the cashier asked "What is this thing?"

As of recently, I had only eaten turnips once a year at Thanksgiving, and they were prepared essentially the same way as mashed potatoes. In cooking, a turnip behaves something like a juicy potato. They're usually pretty mild, but have a unique flavor that holds up under the well-spiced treatment here. While this simple dish was entirely improvised, I got the idea for it from a local Afghani restaurant, to date the only restaurant where I've seen turnips on the menu. It seems that turnips are most often eaten where things in general are pretty rough, but the Irish could have learned a thing or two from the Afghanis. You might have heard more people nowadays saying "Mmm, turnips!"

Spicy Turnips

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp garlic, minced
2-3 leeks, sliced to 1/4"
2-3 turnips, in 1" cubes
1-2 tbsp spice mix*
1 cup vegetable bouillon
2 small pickled lemons, chopped (see post titled "Morocco Love")
2 tsp sugar

Sautee the garlic and ginger in oil briefly, then add the leeks and cook until lightly browned. Add the turnips and cook for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to brown, then add the spices and stir. Add enough bouillion so that the turnips are not quite immersed, and lower the heat. Let cook until the turnips are tender and sauce thickens, probably about 20 minutes. Add sugar to taste if the turnips seem bitter. Serve over rice, preferably basmati or some other nutty, flavorful rice.

*I used something called suya seasoning, which is an African spice mix made with powdered peanuts, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and salt. You probably have most of these spices in your kitchen even if you can't find an African or Afghani spice mix. You could also use any number of Indian curries, but of course the flavors will be entirely different depending what you use.

1 comment:

adele said...

Turnips are good. They're a tasty addition to beef stew.