White radish, crisp and juicy, is in season. I like radish but can’t have much of it raw. More than a couple of bites, and I’m left nursing a stinging sensation and – if it’s a particularly potent specimen of the vegetable – watery eyes.
I wasn’t a fan of cooked radish either, until I discovered aloo mooli kadhi. Recently a new radish recipe has made its way into my armory, the one this post is about: mooli lachcha sabzi, or stir-fried grated radish. Thanks to a friend who shared her family recipe with me.
The only effort-intensive part in this sabzi recipe is the grating of radish. Once you find the will to do that, the rest of the cooking process is an easy ride.
In case you’re wondering, "lachha" means "tuft" or "skein" (my Hindi-English dictionary defines it rather flaccidly as "flocculus") – that’s the form the "mooli" (radish) acquires on grating. You’d also see the word marking other dish names like lachha paratha or lachha tokri.
On the recipe of mooli lachha sabzi…
- White radish – 500 grams (6 medium, in this case)
- Onion – 150 grams (3 small, in this case)
- Green chili – 2 (reduce if you want it less spicy)
- Salt – to taste
- Dry mango (amchoor) powder – 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Curry leaves – 10
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Vegetable oil – 2 teaspoons
- Yellow dal, cooked* – 1 tablespoon
- Coriander leaves – for garnishing
*Use the non-watery part of cooked dal for mooli lachha sabzi. You could use either moong dal or toor dal – I used toor this time. I make-ahead the dal and refrigerate, then take out a small portion when the recipe calls for it.
Scrape and make "lachha" of the radish by pressing it through a grater.
Mix a pinch of salt into the grated radish, let it rest for 10 minutes. Grated radish will give off water. Squeeze out this water into another bowl – don’t throw this flavor-rich, nutrient-dense water away: use it for something like kneading chapati dough.
While the salted radish rests, you can get working on the other ingredients.
Peel and finely slice the onion. Slit the green chilies into strips.
In a kadhai, heat two teaspoons of oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Follow with curry leaves, slit green chilies and stir around for a few seconds, or till the green chilies begin to crisp up.
Add sliced onions.Cook the onions on medium heat, stirring regularly, till translucent.
Add grated radish and a pinch of turmeric powder.
Stir-fry on medium heat, till the rawness of the vegetable goes away (about 5 minutes).
Add a tablespoon of cooked dal and a quarter teaspoon of amchoor powder (if using). Mix it all well.
Adjust salt as needed. Cook for another couple of minutes, or till the ingredients have blended together.
Top with a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves.
Serve mooli lachha sabzi with parathas.