Radishes, a cold-weather vegetable, are in season right now in New York City. That means many urban gardeners, CSA members, and farmers-market shoppers are contemplating what to do with piles of radish greens.
They’re too hard and fibrous to eat raw, but their firm stems and crisp leaves hold up well when sautéed lightly. I love their distinct, spicy, daikon-like flavor. It’s totally unique among greens I cook with—and really delicious.
In India cooked radish greens (mooli ke patton in Hindi) are a popular dish. Occasionally you can find them here in New York in Indian grocery stores, where they are sold separately from their rooty lower-halves.
My Punjabi mother-in-law taught me how to cook radish green this way, and my recipe here is based on her method. This piquant, early summer dish pairs these spicy greens with a mild, savory Punjabi tardka of onion, tomato, cumin, and turmeric. A few squeezes of lemon juice give it a light edge.
Radish Greens (Mooli Ke Patton Ki Sabji) / serves 2
Greens of four radishes (or the standard-size bunch from any Indian grocery store)
1 plum tomato (diced)
1 small onion (diced)
Optional: ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder or 2 cloves garlic (diced)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Chilies to taste (my recommendation: 2-3 green chilies, diced; or ½ teaspoon of red chili powder)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ lemon (juice only)
Salt to taste (my recommendation: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon oil (my recommendation: canola)
Wash the greens and separate the fibrous stems from the leafy greens; dice the stems; and set aside. Add oil to a large pan; turn heat to medium; and add cumin seeds.
Optional: When the cumin seeds are fragrant and “dancing,” add asafoetida powder and stir to dissolve in the oil.
Add the onion (with the garlic, if you’re using that instead of asafoetida power); cook until the onion is translucent and very soft.
Add the tomato; sauté until the tomato loses its form and most of the water cooks out (leaving a “paste”-like mixture of cooked onions and tomato).
Add turmeric powder; stir thoroughly to mix; cook for 1 minute (otherwise the turmeric will have a bitter taste).
Add the stems of the radish greens and stir thoroughly, coating them evenly with the seasoned “paste”; turn heat down to low; put on the lid; and cook for 1-2 minutes (to soften the stems).
When the stems are soft, add the leafy greens and stir thoroughly, coating them evenly with the seasoned “paste”; cook (lid off!) for 1-2 minutes until the greens are lightly cooked, but not limp.
When greens are cooked, shut off the burner and add salt (to taste) and lemon juice.
When she is not editing economics books, Anne Noyes Saini covers food culture and immigration in New York City. She has contributed to The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Narratively, WNYC-FM, WBUR-FM, and City Limits magazine.