Basic Sabzee (Curried Vegetables)

Serves 6 | 40 minutes

This recipe is the foundation for making a gravy-based sabzee with the vegetable of your choice. For best flavor, grind your own spices with an electric coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

You will find different vegetables are better complemented with different spice combinations. For example, cauliflower and potatoes beg for ginger and coriander. Potatoes and black mustard seed are also a fine couple. Fresh lemon juice and/or tamarind concentrate give a perfect tangy flavor to eggplant.

Turmeric and whole spices need to cook in oil so that their healing essences may be released and readily absorbed.

A few good vegetable combinations to try are: CauIiflower with Peppers, Potatoes and Peas, Mushrooms and Peas, or Eggplant and Potatoes. Contrasts in color, taste, and texture make the sabzee more pleasing to the senses. It’s also a good idea to limit the dish to one or two main vegetables so their flavor may be fully appreciated


  • 5-6 cups chopped vegetables (cut into uniformly sized pieces)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • For the masala:
  • ¼ cup ghee or oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced/chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 rounded teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chiles or cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Begin by making the masala. Heat ghee in a stir-fry pan, kadahi, or wok over a medium-high flame.
  2. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Sauté about 10 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
  3. Make pool of oil the center of the pan. Turn heat to high. Add turmeric, chiles and cumin and let sizzle for 30 seconds.
  4. Stir well, add other spices and cook another 30 seconds.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes and salt. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the masala has become a unified saucy entity (at least 5-10 minutes longer). You may add water as needed to prevent scorching. The longer the masala cooks the better the flavor will be.
  6. Add chopped vegetables and continue to cook, stirring, until heated through.
  7. Cover, lower heat and cook (stirring occasionally) until vegetables are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork. You may want to add a little water now and then, but the final consistency should not be soupy. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in cilantro or use as garnish.