In Gujarat, Northern India, numerous small plates and bowls of food are served together to create a traditional thali that families can feast on. Food here is all about fresh flavours, cooked in a simple way, with the best spices that pair effortlessly with these other dishes; subtle flavours have to mix together, without one dish overpowering the others.
One of the classic dishes from the thali that I grew up eating was the sambharo, or the Gujarati version of a vegetable stir fry. It’s a side dish that is versatile and simple to make, yet packs a serious flavour punch in it’s crunchy texture. You can make it with any vegetables you want to use up, but my personal favourites are chillies, peppers, carrots and white cabbage, because the spices melt in to them to enhance their natural flavour. Growing up, I ate this wrapped in a chappati and paired with hot masala chai for breakfast; it is still one of my favourite meals.
Sambharo can be served in this traditional way with chappatis, paratha, rice or puri, but if you want to get creative, you can serve it on a cheese board or use it as a vol-au-vent topping. You’ll find that a spoonful of it adds just the right spice kick and warmth to cheese, grapes and crackers over the festive period, if you are looking to create a fusion snack.
An added bonus is that you can eat it cold, which makes it perfect for whipping up ahead of time. Plus it comes together in just 15 minutes.
Indian Stir Fry (Gujarati Sambharo)
Fresh ingredients, cooked simply
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
- 3 green chillies, sliced lengthways ( add more/ less depending on desired spice level)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1. Prepare the vegetables and set aside
2. Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the mustard seeds, and cover
3. When the oil is hot, and the mustard seeds have popped, turn off the heat and add the cumin seeds
4. Let the seeds sizzle in the oil, off the heat, for a minute, and then add the vegetables
5. Add the spices, and stir well on a medium heat
6. Cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, stirring every minute
7. Once the water has evaporated, check the taste and adjust as required
8. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat
9. Serve hot or cold with rice, chappati, puri, or as part of a cheese board