Indian Shalgam Sabzi (Vegetarian Turnip Curry)

5 from 3 votes

Humble, home-cooked shalgam sabzi! This well-tested stovetop recipe for Indian turnip curry is extra easy and quick to cook at home. It combines cubed turnips, crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh tomatoes work well), red onion, fresh garlic, and a few Indian spices. This root veggie dish is flavor-filled but mild. It's a great sabzi, or vegetable dish, that's ready in less than 30 minutes. Gather your ingredients for cooking; photo guidance is provided below!

Shalgam sabzi in a katori.

I know I know turnips sound so…blah, but they’re not! Just hear me out.

Turnips bring a mix of flavors to the table! When raw, they have this radish-like bite, but once cooked, they turn all nutty and earthy. They’re crunchy and a tad spicy when raw, but once cooked, they’re sweet and juicy with a satisfyingly firm texture.

Pair that yumminess of wholesome turnips with this Indian recipe and I bet you’ll look at turnips a bit differently.

Here’s the basic info on the dish real quick: Shalgam means turnip in Hindi, and sabzi or sabji is a vegetable dish.  So, shalgam ki sabzi is an Indian turnip recipe. It is most common in Punjab, so this is a North Indian recipe.

  • Serve as a main course or side dish
  • Quick to make (5 minute prep, 20 minute cooking time)
  • Vegetarian, Vegan (Gluten-free if you skip hing)

What readers say:

“Very tasty recipe! I grew my own turnips and didn’t like them until I tried this recipe. Thank you.”Gillian

Method: I like to make it using cubed turnips; the juicy texture and taste of the turnips melt in my mouth just right. However, some people like to make it as a bhartha (think of the very popular baingan ka bhartha), which means mashed. 

Turnips cook fairly quickly, so making them on the stove top gives you control over Instant Pot versions and helps you maintain the right texture. I have tips below on how to ensure the turnips don’t become too mushy.

Three turnips.

Seasonality: Baby turnips are at their best from June to July, while winter turnips are pretty much available year-round. But if you want them at their absolute tastiest, aim for October through February.

Making it a Meal: With this recipe, you will have a hot meal ready in under half an hour!  It can be a main vegetable dish or served alongside another main as a side dish.This shalgam sabzi tastes great with yogurt, basmati rice, jeera rice, or a piping hot roti.  I really love it paired with soft besan roti as the earthy flavor goes SO WELL with the spice of this dish. 

Quick Ingredient Notes + Preparation Tips

Shalgam recipe ingredients overhead shot.

Turnips: Since turnips are grown underground they tend to be a bit dirty.  Wash them well and peel them prior to chopping them into ½ – 1 inch size cubes.

Onions: I used red onions because that is what I had on hand.  Use either white or red onions.

Garlic cloves: Chop finely or crush. 

Crushed tomatoes: I love using canned crushed tomatoes because of the consistency of taste and convenience they provide. You can also use fresh tomatoes but note that depending on the taste, you may need to adjust the quantity.

Spices:  I won’t list them out, but note they are all common Indian spices you will likely have in your masala dabba!

Cilantro / Coriander Leaves:  Optional garnish to give the dish a bit of fresh taste.

Let’s Get Cooking

Prep: Wash, peel, and chop the turnips.  Chop red onions and finely chop the garlic (or use a garlic press).

  1. Get the tadka going with oil, cumin seeds, and asafetida.  Cook onions and garlic briefly.
  2. Add the chopped turnips, turmeric powder, and salt.  Cover and cook until fork tender.
  3. Add the remaining spices and crushed tomatoes. Mix well and let cook 2-3 minutes more.
  4. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Keys To Non-Mushy Turnips

  • Try to cut the turnips into approximately the same size so they cook evenly.
  • I add just a little bit of water to the dish. The tomatoes already have added moisture to the dish, so don’t go overboard.
  • Lower the heat and cook covered for only about 5 minutes.  If you step away too long it may become overcooked.

Serving Suggestions

Turnip curry tastes great with warm roti or other Indian bread and basmati or jeera rice. Sabzis or shaaks (vegetable dishes) are often served with dals for a complete meal.

You can also serve mango ras on the side during mango season or try one of many Indian ice creams, such as kesar pista ice cream.

Shalgam sabzi, Indian turnips in a bowl.

Storing It

You can make the shaak and freeze it.  Make sure to store in a freezer safe container or bag.  Move to the fridge the night before serving to defrost.  Reheat in a pan on low heat before serving.

Variations

This shalgam recipe is flexible.  You could add potatoes to make aloo shalgam ki sabzi or even add peas or other veggies.

Skip the asafetida to make this recipe gluten-free.

Shalgam sabzi in a katori.

Stovetop Indian Shalgam Sabzi (Vegetarian Turnip Curry)

Shilpa Joshi
Humble, home-cooked shalgam sabzi! This well-tested stovetop recipe for Indian turnip curry is extra easy and quick to cook at home. It combines cubed turnips, crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh tomatoes work well), red onion, fresh garlic, and a few Indian spices. This root veggie dish is flavor-filled but mild. It's a great sabzi, or vegetable dish, that's ready in less than 30 minutes. Gather your ingredients for cooking; photo guidance is provided below!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 99 kcal

Equipment

  • Non stick pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 turnips chopped: 2¼ cups, 300g
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds jeera
  • ¼ tsp asafetida hing
  • ½ cup onions 65g
  • 2 cloves garlic 7g, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin coriander powder dhana jeeru blend
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder lal mirch
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup crushed tomatoes
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp salt adjust to preference
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 6 tbsp water

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil on medium-high in pan. Add cumin seeds. Let cook and begin to sizzle (takes about 2-3 minutes). Then add asafetida (hing).
  • Add onions to pan. Let cook 2 minutes. Add in chopped garlic.
  • Add turnips, salt and turmeric. Mix.
  • Turn gas between low-medium. Add 6 tbsp water. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Checking to mix 1-2 times in between (especially if you aren't using a non-stick pan).
  • Turnips should be fork tender. Add remaining spices and crushed tomatoes. Mix well.
  • Let cook 2 more minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 355mgPotassium: 206mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 40IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Shilpa

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t see the quantity of turmeric powder in your recipe here. Please advise of the amount. Thank you!