‘Punjabi’ Shak

I first came across an entire range of foods known as ‘Punjabi’ food here in Gujarat. It referred to just about all the rich, tomato/ onion gravy based veggies, naan/kulcha/ parathas that was dished out in restaurants in Ahmedabad, and probably in other parts of Gujarat as well . Needless to say such a category does not really exist ( I doubt if one could find a homogenous ‘north Indian’ cuisine) and the foods in this category broadly refers to stuff not usually cooked on an everyday basis in a Gujarati household, and comprising richer gravies and (non-Jain*) ingredients such as tomatoes, onions and garlic.

To come back to the recipe in question, when my MIL makes a gravy using onions and tomatoes, it is called a Punjabi shak (shak being the Gujarati terms for veggie preparations and raw vegetables both). Its simple enough, and tastes great!

Punjabi shak/ Veggies in tomato- onion gravy

Cube/dice veggies of choice (carrots, peas, cauliflower, beans) and boil with a little salt. We had about 4 cups of boiled veggies.

Grind to a watery paste 1 large onion and 2 largish tomatoes. We had 2 cups of paste.

In a wok/ pan, add 3-4 (or more) tbsps of oil/ ghee/ butter, add 1/2 tsp of hing/ asafoetida, and the onion-tomato paste. Add 1 tsp of crushed garlic, add some more if you like the veggies garlick-y. Keep on a medium flame/ heat throughout.

Add 1/2 tsp each of chilli powder and turmeric, 1 tsp of coriander-cumin powder, and 2 tsp of garam masala// kitchen king. Let the whole thing cook till it lets off oil.

You can add 2-3 tsps of sugar/ jaggery. But feel free to leave it out if it hurts your non-Gujju sensibilities to add sweet stuff to spicy veggies, but I personally think jaggery rounds off the spices quite well.

Add the veggies, a fist full of chopped coriander, and let it simmer. Adjust salt, spices at this point and let it simmer for about 10 mins. The gravy should not taste raw, and the veggies should have taken on some of the spice and flavour as well.

Garnish with more coriander and eat!

Punjabi shak

* A pedestrian understanding of Jain food is that it simply does not include anything that grows below the ground, such as onions and garlic. I hope to develop a better understanding of Jain dietery logic in the coming years of association of my Jain family-in-law.


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