An Indian style of stir fry in which a little water is added to the pan. This slower cooking method steams the chopped vegetables, rather than flash frying.
Stir Fry is a Chinese method of cooking that involves heating oil in a pan with gentle, sloping sides, and flash-frying vegetables or meat. A sauce with a thickener is usually added at the end for flavour. The quick cooking time and high temperature results in crisp textures and vibrant colours. The wok is the favoured cooking vessel, as it allows the vegetables to be cooked in stages. As some vegetables are quicker to cook than others, fast-cooking vegetables can be pushed to the sides of the pan once cooked, allowing the thicker and harder vegetables to continue cooking in the centre of the pan.
- fast-cooking vegetables: asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, peppers, spinach
- slow-cooking vegetables: broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, radishes, turnips, squash
When stir frying, it is important not to overcrowd the pan, as this causes the vegetables to steam and braise, and so stops them from crisping up. However, this can make the process incredibly tedious and time-consuming if you are cooking larger quantities, and have to cook multiple batches. This is where the Indian style of stir fry comes in useful. Sabjis / subzis are similar to Chinese stir frys in that all the vegetables are cooked in one pan. However, they use more spices, and a slower cooking method that involves adding a small amount of liquid to gently steam the vegetables and develop flavour.
- 2 red peppers, seeds removed and sliced lengthways
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into long matchsticks
- 2 courgettes, cut into long matchsticks
- 1/2 cup (70g) pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
- thumb-sized piece of root ginger (20g), peeled and grated
- 2 green chillis, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also known as black onion seeds)
- 6 fresh curry leaves (or 1 tsp dried curry leaves, crumbled)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves only
- Heat a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and dry fry for 2-3 minutes, until brown in patches. Remove and set aside in a large serving bowl.
- Add the cooking oil, then add the black mustard seeds. Once they start popping, add the fennel seeds, nigella seeds and curry leaves – about 30 seconds. Leave to fry for 1 minute, then add the ginger and chilli. Fry for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the water. Add the carrots and cover with a lid. Leave to steam for 8 minutes. Add the pepper and leave to steam, covered, for 3 minutes. Add the courgette and leave to steam, covered, for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer to the serving bowl containing the pumpkin seeds. Add the parsley leaves and salt. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly in the spice mixture. Serve hot.