turnip stew 1

I’m growing rutabagas this year.

The strange thing is, I have no recollection of planting them.


One day a couple of weeks ago, I was out in my garden and spied a nice row of greens. Upon further investigation, I discovered that said greens were attached to some very large roots. Rutabagas! Clearly I put the seeds in this spring (I even found the packet), but I’m completely serious…I have no recollection at all of that event.

I’ve never grown them before, but did a little research and learned that rutabagas can be left in the ground until well after a frost; in fact they become sweeter that way. So I resolved not to pick them all, but some of the ‘bagas were getting really huge, so I pulled those out and starting wondering what the heck was I going to do with them.

It was a really hot day out but I started thinking about soup…a super spicy one, served cold. I turned to Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen for some inspiration, and found it on page 134.

Monica’s Butternut Squash Stew with Jaggery really spoke to me that day. One, because it was extremely healthy (there are lots of vegetables in it, as well as red lentils) and two, because it was the perfect opportunity to try out the jaggery I had recently purchased from Kalustyans.

Did I ever tell you about my visit to Kalustyans with Cathy Barrow (aka Mrs. Wheelbarrow)? She’s an incredible cook who I met online through food52: we met for the first time in person, and had a really great time in New York City, a few weeks ago. We lunched at The Spotted Pig for hours, we drooled over cameras and bought tiny tabletop tripods at Adorama, and did we ever do some shopping at Kalustyans.

So that’s where I finally found the elusive jaggery, a natural sweetener made from concentrated sugar cane juice that I’ve been wanting to try for some time.


Monica talks all about ways to use it in her book (she says it works in everything from lemonade to lentils) and apparently it’s very high in minerals, especially iron. It has a complex and very wonderful flavor, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. While you can use brown sugar as a substitute, just know that they do not taste the same.

turnip stew 550

The squash stew is intended to be consumed on a cold winter’s day, but I had no problem chowing down on my version in August, topped with a big dollop of yogurt and lots of cilantro. I served it with Basmati rice…I think it would also be great over quinoa.

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rutabaga stew 550


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  1. 1

    Monica Bhide — August 27, 2010 @ 11:22 am

    That looks amazing!!! I am so honored you chose to use my book. Thanks so so much! I am coming over to eat it! Looks really great!

  2. 2

    kerry — August 27, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    This looks fantastic. i want to start growing bagas and make indian food.

  3. 3

    Carol Egbert — August 27, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    I love rutabaga but have never used it with curry–now I will. Thanks.

  4. 4

    Anonymous — August 27, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    Twitter Trackbacks…

  5. 5

    Claudia — August 27, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    I cook with rutabagas in the winter but have never paired it with curry. This does look enticing.

  6. 6

    Monet — August 27, 2010 @ 9:02 pm

    I have never cooked with rutabagas and I loved this recipe because it was something I have never seen before. Even though it is still very warm here, I wanted a bowl of my own! Thank you for sharing…I have been loving curry and I am sure I would love this!

  7. 7

    sangeeta — August 27, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

    This is marvelous!!!
    Rutabaga is a new thing for me though we use turnips and make a similar curry with squashes ….
    Jaggery is a favorite ingredient of mine and this recipe looks really great !!!

  8. 8

    MrsWheelbarrow — August 28, 2010 @ 4:12 am

    Jaggery? You bought Jaggery? I didn’t even see it go in your cart…
    This is a truly brilliant use of rutabagas – a vegetable I love, but one that is not so appreciated by my husband. I’ve hidden it successfully in stews, but never thought to make a curry. I think I need the Bhide book, too.
    (Thank you for the nice mention. That was one of the nicest days I’ve had in awhile.)

  9. 9

    Suzanne Collier — August 28, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    Winnie, you are certainly appealing to my adventurous side now! Wow, this looks delicious and I do believe that MM would love this. He has become more adventurous, too! We are going to have this as soon as we get back home from our trip to Colorado. Pictures are truly inspiring, too!

  10. 10

    Pamela — August 28, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

    Winnie – I absolutely love your blog. Why I have not discovered it before is beyond me since I have been following you on twitter and now Facebook. I’ve added you to my blogroll on my blog.

  11. 11

    Miss Becky — August 29, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    I’m intrigued with jaggery. never heard of it until now. I love how I learn something new every time I come here. the only time I have rutabagas is at a lutefisk dinner in the fall ~ tradition in Wisconsin. they are always mashed, so your recipe is calling to me because I love their taste.

  12. 12

    Meredith — August 31, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

    Oh my gosh, this look delicious! And so beautiful! Your photographs are gorgeous.
    I’ve recently launched my own blog, I’d love for you to check it out and let me know what you think :) http://www.prettygoodfood.com
    Thanks, and Happy Cooking!!!

  13. 13

    Lauren — September 13, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

    I have recently been trying to expand my palate and try things that normally I would shy away from. I work with Better Recipes so while i review recipes constantly I am not so adventurous as I would like to be. I absolutely love soup and I collect Soup Recipes. This one in particulars looks absolutely delicious and present an opportunity to try something new. Can’t wait to try it!