Monday, May 12, 2008

Sixth Day Mixed Vegetables (Chaati nu shaak)

Priti Chitnis Gress, author of Flavorful India: Treasured Recipes from a Gujarati Family, has written a special introduction for this week's recipe. Priti's presentation is a special one, commemorating not only the recent reprinting of her book, a Hippocrene favorite, in paperback but also the birth of her second child, Jay Surya, in February. Here's what Priti has to say:

One of my favorite recipes in the book is a dish prepared especially for new mothers, “Sixth Day Mixed Vegetables” or Chaati nu shaak, in Gujarati. Roughly translated it is “vegetables for the sixth” and refers to the sixth day after a baby is born. According to Hindu belief, six days after birth God comes to bless the child and write his/her future. This is typically the time a baby is named. In the old days, a mother’s diet was somewhat simple and limited until this day. On the sixth day, the mother was encouraged to try a variety of vegetables to make sure she could easily digest and enjoy them all. A combination of religious belief and folk wisdom determined that this dish is ideal nourishment at that time. It can be made from virtually any combination of vegetables, but it is best to include a few leafy greens (like fenugreek leaves or dill) as well as beans and root vegetables.

I was lucky to have my mom stay with me after my daughter, and more recently my son, were born. She made these vegetables for me on the sixth day each time, but I can assure you that the recipe is delicious any day!

Serves (appropriately enough) 6

3 to 4 tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1.5 teaspoons salt

Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of all the vegetables you desire to make a total of about 2 pounds. Here are some suggestions:

potatoes, peeled and cubed eggplant
chopped okra, trimmed and chopped
ghilora (tindora), trimmed and chopped
bitter melon, peeled and chopped
bottle gourd, chopped
cauliflower florets
cabbage, shredded
carrots, chopped
corn kernels
green peas
green beans, chopped
pigeon peas
fenugreek leaves, chopped
dill, chopped
spinach, chopped

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and ajwain seeds. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until seeds are browned. Add onion and bell pepper and continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander and salt. Stir well and sauté for 30 seconds to release flavors of spices.

2. Add all the vegetables, EXCEPT any leafy greens. Reduce heat to low and stir and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add any greens and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Questions about this recipe or Gujarati cuisine for Priti? Post them here and we'll ask Priti to respond!


MSC said...

Hi, interesting recipe--looking forward to trying it out myself.

I'm curious, though, what is "ghilora (tindora)"? Is this something you can buy in the United States?

Priti said...

Ghilora, also called tindora, are available at Indian grocery stores. They are small, 2- to 3-inch squash with pale green, vertical stripes and have a mild zucchini-like flavor. They look like tiny cucumbers (gherkins). Good luck with the recipe--let me know how you like it!

jenbshannon said...

I absolutely love this cookbook. My family uses it all the time. We are looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!