1tablespoonfresh cilantro or coriander leaf, chopped (optional)
1smallonion or shallot, sliced (optional)
* If your vegetable combo includes tomato, you have the sour flavor covered, so leave out the lemon juice.
Clean and chop your selected vegetables and have them ready by the stove. Keep in mind that different vegetables may take different times to cook. If you are cooking a root vegetable with a green, start cooking the roots first before adding the greens.
Place a 10-inch sauté pan on medium heat and add vegetable oil. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds and urad dal, and sauté until at least half the mustard seeds pop, and the dal has turned golden brown. (If you do not have these ingredients, start with the next step.)
Add the turmeric powder, red chili powder (or cayenne pepper), and salt to the oil for a few seconds, and stir until the aroma is released. If you are using the optional onion, sauté it in the spices now just until it starts to brown. If no onion, add the vegetables and a pinch of salt, and stir well.
Cover the pan and cook for 3–10 minutes (depended on the type of vegetable you are using), until the vegetables are fully cooked. Add a little water if needed to help the vegetables steam in their own juices.
Taste, and adjust for salt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice if your dish does not contain a sour vegetable. Stir in the coriander leaves if you are using it.
If you don’t have dal, or you would like something simpler, I would suggest enjoying the vegetables with toasted, buttered, whole wheat sourdough. Add a poached egg if you would like extra protein.
Canola oil, or another neutral tasting oil, is preferred over olive oil for this recipe, because it is relatively tasteless, and the spices used in this preparation are subtle.Split urad dal is a small white bean, available online or in Indian grocery stores. If you do not have it, it is fine to leave it out.Red chili powder is an Indian chili. It is very similar to cayenne, so you can substitute with cayenne powder if this is all you have. The red chili adds pungency and burning heat, so adjust the amount to your taste. I suggest adding at least a tiny bit to obtain the benefits of the ingredient. The dish will not be the same without it.About the turmeric: Feel free to add more or less according to your taste. If you want more health benefits from the turmeric, add no more than 1 ½ teaspoons, because too much can start to taste bitter. Also, be careful not to overcook the turmeric in oil, as it can burn easily. About onion: It can be really nice here, particularly with the greens. Try some sliced shallots or red onion, and cook it with the spices for a few minutes before adding the rest of your vegetables. It will add additional depth of flavor.I do not suggest garlic or ginger, as it can be overpowering to the other spices in this dish. However, if you want to add it, do so after the black mustard seeds and urad dal are cooked, and before adding the powdered spices. Sauté ginger or garlic on low for a couple minutes, then add the powdered spices and continue with the recipe.