Monday, 28 May 2012

Roots and Shoots- Nature's special bargain!

Radish roots and shoots stir fry

Nothing is more annoying than seeing shoppers tearing out leaves of vegetables like radish, kholrabi, beetroot and turnip. Some do it to weigh in more of the vegetable to get VFM while others don’t want to carry home rubbish! Little do they realise they are spurning a genuine BOGOF offer, nay gift, from Mother Nature!

Our modern lives are to be blamed for this bald, arid existence sans leaves. In our increasingly busy lives many of us prefer to shop in supermarkets for green grocery packaged in attractive but leafless ways. How often do we go to the vegetable mandi or farmer’s markets to shop locally for locally grown produce? How often do we think of the buying local produce for the variety of umbrella reasons -to eat fresh and healthy organically grown food; to reduce the carbon foot print by not patronising out of season, cold stored produce that needs transport or storage; to promote local economies and trade and agriculture? And wouldn’t it be nice to chat with local grocers and vendors, get tips from them and connect with the produce of the soil.

Leaves of most root vegetables are a store house of nutrients and fibre. They are at times more nutritious than the roots themselves and are a significant source of calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, C and K. And they taste great too!

Using a mooli in a pulao may seem ridiculous and unbelievable, but a friend of mine taught me to grind mooli leaves into a coarse paste and add to vegetable pulao- the  taste is unbelievingly rich!

My mother used to pick bunches of moolis and kohlrabis with the maximum amount of foliage and use the leaves either in dals or stir fries along with sprouts, dals or with the roots themselves. I follow her suit and in my home, any vegetable with leaves is venerated as if it is a special bonus.

Here is a radish or mooli roots and shoot stir fry subji, a dish from my mother’s repertoire!


1 large radish (we get huge ones in Melbourne) or 4-5 small with the leaves (you should get about 2 ½ cups of slices and up to 1 cup of good leaves)

1 tablespoon oil

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)

1 dry red chili (optional)

2 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

½ teaspoon cumin powder

Salt to taste

Pinch of sugar (optional)

A few tablespoons water if required


Cut the radish leaves out at the base. Pick and select the best leaves discarding hard stems. Wash the leaves and tender stems thoroughly in water. Chop finely and keep aside. Lightly peel the radish, wash and cut each radish lengthwise into four and then slice them into slices.

Heat a pan with the oil. Add mustard seeds and when they start spluttering, add the hing, turmeric, chili powder and the dry red chilly. Add the sliced radish and the chopped leaves. Sauté for a minute and add a few tablespoons of water if required. Sometimes if the radish has a lot of water content, it will let out its own juices which can help cook the leaves and the radish. Cook covered until almost done. Add coconut, cumin powder and salt to taste and the pinch of sugar. Remember, radish leaves are salty. Finish it by cooking some more, this time uncovered to dry any liquid the radish may have let out. 

Serve hot with phulkas or dal and rice.


  1. In the north we make Mooli ki Subzi with equal amounts of radish leaves ( where I believe the better flavor is ) and the radish root . The overall dish is more green to look at and has an amazing flavor , as I am sure this picturesque recipe too has .
    Again why coconut here too ! Enjoy radish for its pungency , I feel .

    1. Lovely! yes, the leaves have better flavour and glad to note that leaves are also used!
      This stir fry recipe is from coastal Maharashtra (Konkan) hence the coconut! We make other types of mooli subjis without coconut as well! I will post recipes by and by...

  2. I love mooli subzi! We make the same way except for the coconut, will try that next time. Thanks
    Malti Desai

    1. Thank you Malti! Try it with coconut- it acts as a nice buffer to the pungency of the mooli and the rustic roughness of the leaves... :)

  3. I also can't stand to see people tearing off leaves (or snapping off brocolli stalks!) When I buy beetroot I get a bunch with the biggest greenest leaves I can find. It's nice juist sauteed up like spinach with some garlic and butter/margarine.

    This radish dish sounds pretty good. I haven't bought radishes for a while.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

    1. Agree totally, Emma! It takes a bit of an effort to pick, clean and cook- but the taste, nutrition, cost and environment factors make it a worth while effort!!

      Thank you, too, for your interest in my blog!


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