This recipe is from the western part of India (Maharashtra state) where it’s called ‘Shepuchi bhaji’ / शेपूची भाजी. It doesn’t translate directly to English; I will have to borrow a word from Hindi called ‘subzi’ which means a dry vegetable dish (it’s not a curry). To help my Anglo-Indian family understand it better, I simply call it ‘dill subzi’.
Dill Subzi is a Maharashtrian farmer’s meal, typically served with ‘Bhakri’ (A flatbread made from barley or millet flour). As a farmer’s daughter myself, I couldn’t resist sharing this dish.
For all those garlic and chilli fans like me, note that there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to using these two ingredients in food, so feel free to use as much or as little garlic and chilli as you like. I won’t judge you although I might not invite you over dinner if you can’t take the heat.
Dill stir fry / Shepuchi bhajiCourse: Indian, Vegan, VegetarianCuisine: Indian, MaharashtrianDifficulty: Medium
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
3 big bunches of fresh dill
5-6 hot green chillies
4-5 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of moong dal (mung lentils)
Salt to taste
- Sort each bunch of dill leaving the thicker stems aside but picking the leaves and delicate stalks collecting them in a bowl. This is ‘sorting’ the dill i.e. separating gritty and chunky stems from the tasty leaves and stalks.
- Coarsely chop the collected leaves and stalks, and put them in a bowl. Pour some cold water into the bowl and wash out all the grit. I generally pour the water down the drain and repeat the process twice but leave the water in bowl the last time.
- Chop some green chillies and garlic.
- Heat the oil in a ‘Karahi’ or a heavy bottomed frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the chillies and garlic and fry until the garlic starts to brown.
- Simply transfer the soaked dill either by hand or using a slotted spoon into the karahi bit by bit leaving the water behind. The quantity of dill might seem a lot at first but it will shrink down to a more modest portion as it cooks.
- Throw in the moong dal (mung lentils) and give everything a good stir to mix the contents evenly. Then cover with a lid and cook over a low to medium flame for 10 minutes. Keep stirring and make sure the dill does not dry out. Continue cooking until the dill is soft and moist but not wet. It may take another 10 minutes to cook depending on how thick the leaves are.
- In the UK you can get larger bunches of dill from any Indian grocery store and some vegetable markets but the packets you get from supermarkets are far too small to be economical, not to mention wrapped in plastic.
- Sorting the dill is a labour intensive job. You’ll need 10-20 minutes to separate the tender tips. It’s best to do this the day you buy it but, if needed, the sorted dill can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Just make sure you only wash it just before use to remove any grit.
- You can also use chana dal or Bengal gram split lentils or split chickpea lentils instead of moong dal (mung lentils). I often cook this dish with chana dal.
- Use a large karahi or pan to give room to stir the fresh dill at the start of cooking to avoid wastage due to spilling, even though it’ll shrink right down by the end.
- Rather than straining the dill after washing, I simply remove it by hand and transfer it directly into the karahi, leaving most of the water in the bowl. This ensures that any remaining grit doesn’t spoil the finished dish.
- It’s ok if a little bit of water gets into the karahi whilst transferring the soaked dill. The moisture helps it cook through without burning.
- If at any point whilst cooking, the dill looks too dry and sticks to the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook covered.