Peanut Curry, Spiced Brown Rice, and Cabbage Subzi

Or Shengdanyachi Aamti, Phodanicha Bhaat ani Kobichi Bhaaji.

This is the kind of meal we cook and eat in our home most days. It’s traditional Indian food at its wholesomest. The kind you won’t find at an Indian restaurant, but is better than anything you could eat out.

To make this protein-packed meal I dug into my Marathi roots. My mom, a Maharashtrian, left in me a deep and lasting love for the food of this beautiful state on India’s west coast. Although she passed away when I was a child, growing up in Bombay, Maharashtra’s capital, meant I was never too far from the delicious flavors of Marathi cuisine.

At its very best, Maharashtrian food is simple yet complex. Its most brilliant dishes– like varan (a dal dish), or the Shengdanyachi Amti (Peanut Curry) I have for you today– need just a few ingredients, but they pack a powerful flavor punch. The peanut curry is typically eaten by Maharashtrians when they are fasting for religious reasons, usually with a “rice” made of varai, or samo seeds. Since samo seeds are not something I find at my local Indian store, I thought I’d make instead a healthy, lightly spiced brown rice dish, Phodanicha Bhaat, to go with it. And because a subzi (or bhaaji, as we’d call it in Marathi) is a must with any rice-curry combination, I made an easy but classic Cabbage Bhaaji that both Desi and I love.

If you’re wondering why people would eat anything on a fast, here’s a secret: In India nobody actually goes hungry on a fast. Instead, fasters find alternatives to the foods they regularly eat and consume those instead. So you can’t eat rice, but you can eat a “rice” made with samo seeds or with sago (tapioca pearls). And you can’t eat a dal made with lentils, but you can eat one made with peanuts. See? It’s a common Indian joke that people usually come out of a fast weighing more than they did before.

I wouldn’t fast if my life depended on it, but I do love this peanut curry just for everyday comfort eats. It packs tons of protein. And combined with the rice and bhaaji it is more delicious than any food you can imagine.

Here are the recipes. Enjoy, all!

Shengdanyachi Aamti (Peanut Stew or Curry)

(The meal would serve 6 people)

Ingredients:

1 cup peanuts, lightly roasted on a skillet (use peeled or unpeeled– it doesn’t really matter)

2 dry red chillies

1 1-inch ball of tamarind

4 cloves

1 1-inch stick of cinnamon

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 curry leaves (optional)

1 tbsp jaggery, grated or finely chopped

1 tsp oil

Salt to taste

Place the peanuts, red chillies and tamarind in a blender. Add about a cup of water and blend into a smooth paste. Add more water if the mixture is too thick.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the cumin seeds, and when they sputter add the cloves and cinnamon.

Pour in the peanut paste and add some water if it is too thick. Stir well together and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and let it cook another five minutes

Add the jaggery, stir it in, and then season with salt.

Serve hot.

Nutrition estimate per serving (for 6 servings): Calories 154,  Total fat 12.8 grams, Cholesterol 0 mg, Potassium 166.4 mg, Dietary Fiber 2 grams, Sugar 1.6 grams, Protein 5.8 grams

Phodanicha Bhaat (Spiced Brown Rice)

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice, cooked (I mix the brown rice with 3 cups of water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to low, slap on a lid, and let it cook, undisturbed, for 45 minutes. Let the rice stand, covered, for another 10 minutes before opening)

1 dry red chilli, broken into pieces

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 1-inch cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 bay leaf

12-14 curry leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, finely diced

2 tsp garam masala or sambar powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

Coriander for garnish

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet and add the cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the cinnamon, cloves and bayleaf. Stir for 30 seconds.

Add the onions, curry leaves and a pinch of salt, and stir-fry for five minutes until the onions start to soften.

Add the tomato and sambar and turmeric powders. Stir together.

Add the rice and salt to taste and mix everything thoroughly. Let it all warm through, about five minutes.

Garnish with coriander.

Nutrition estimate per serving (for six servings): Calories 54, Total Fat: 1.1 grams, Cholesterol 0 mg, Potassium 88.3 mg, Dietary Fiber 1.1 grams, Sugar 0 grams, Protein 1.2 grams.

Cabbage Bhaji

Ingredients:

1/3rd of a large cabbage, cut into fine ribbons (about four cups)

1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp udad dal (black gram dal)

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

A generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)

8-10 curry leaves

2-3 green chillies, slit down the middle

Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard sputters, add the udad dal, stir fry for a minute until lightly golden-brown, then add turmeric powder, green chillies, and curry leaves.

Add the shredded cabbage and stir it all together very well. Add some salt. This will help the cabbage soften without having to add extra water.

Stir-fry for about 10 minutes or until the cabbage is tender but still has a bite to it. If you like your cabbage really tender, let it go for a few more minutes. Be sure to stir often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Garnish, if desired, with some shredded coconut and coriander leaves.

Nutrition estimate per serving (for 6 servings): Calories 22, Total fat 0.9 grams,  Potassium 146 mg, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sugar 0 g, Dietary Fiber 1.4 grams, Protein 0.9 grams

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Dear Vaishali,
    I`m from Germany and a mom of 4 grown up kids (3 are vegetarian and 1 is vegan).I am very interested in a vegan lifestyle and am changing from vegetarian towards vegan.
    I love your wonderful website with those beautiful photos and your precise cooking directions.Thank you for sharing your skills and creativity .
    I have a question:is the urad dal in Cabbage Bhaji precooked ? It doesn`t say in the directions when to stir them in.

    I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

    Claudia

  2. says

    We had a feast on ekadashi
    (ekadashi, duppat khashi!) khichadi, danyachi amti, vari rice, khamang kakdi, ratalu kees, upasacha batata! I am laughing out loud as I type and thinking, “kiti te khana!!ani upas mhane!!”

    I love the Peanut curry, we make it in a similar manner, except for the cinnamon.

    Simple ‘kobichi bhaji’ is a hit at my place too, i add a tsp. of sugar, just to give it a hint of sweet.

    Phodnicha bhaat was one of my fav things to take in my lunch box!

  3. says

    ahh.. a nice homely meal.. bliss!.. all the good old memories of our aaji(cook) making the aamtis and bhaajis:) mom would make a lot of daals and beans.. and aaji would come and make some super thin rotis and fun maharashtrian dishes once every few days!

  4. says

    Nice homely meal! I love peanut amati. I make it with Quinoa these days, combo goes very well.

    I used to fast only in Shravan back in India but not anymore. My mom or grandma never used to make anything elaborate on their fasts so I did not know lot of fasting ‘rituals’ until I landed in US and heard from friends :)

  5. says

    Nish, Santosh, Thanks.

    Claudia, The udad dal doesn’t have to be precooked. It should be added to the oil right after the mustard sputters. I’ll add it to the recipe. Just stir-fry the dal till it’s lightly golden, about a minute, then proceed with the recipe.
    Thanks for your thoughtful words about the blog. And a very happy Christmas and New Year to your family too. :)

    Manasi, I’m laughing too as I read your description of the ekadashi feast. :) I love the idea of a little sugar in the kobichi bhaji. Will do that next time I make this.

    Richa, those are nice memories. I love the superthin polis.

    Mints, quinoa instead of varai sounds fabulous. I never thought of that. Your mom and grandma sound like they were fasting the right way, unlike my family. :)

    Anu, thanks!

  6. says

    Indian fasts are legendary- for their food! Here in Delhi, restaurants have special fasting Thalia during Navratri!!!!

    The peanut curry I make thicker as a chutney! And live the gobhichi bhaji and phodnichi bhaat – have vivid memories of eating it at my neighbour’s place

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