Vegetable "Makhanwala" (made light)

It was almost after a decade that I cooked Vegetable "Makhanwala" the other day... and even before we started dinner I knew that this version was a keeper.....

The last time I had prepared it... was just after our marriage. We had invited a friend over for dinner and the night before I sat down with my meager collection of cookbooks to choose the specials for the evening. The dessert was to be bought... for in Allahabad you've got to serve the Gulabjamuns from Alopi Bagh for dessert and if you wish to pair them with anything more special, simply serve a double or a triple... for there is no sweet more delicious than those melt-in-your-mouth Gulabjamuns...  and it is difficult to imagine anything beyond when those are available around...

Aaaah... the Gulabjamuns ...how i miss them........  oh but I digress...

Anyway.. so the dessert was to be bought and the rest of the meal cooked. Now, back in those days"The Samsung Book of Indian Microwave Cooking" by Tarla Dalal used to be my most trusted cookbook. I had tried a number of recipes from it (remember the Puneri Aloo) and over time had begun trusting its recipes a lot... So the main dish had to be from the book.. also it had to be a dish that included "special" ingredients. Turned out that Vegetable Makhanwala fulfilled those criteria.   Among other things the recipe had Kasuri methi, fresh cream and baby sweet corn in the ingredient list... three things that were enough to capture my interest and make me label it as "special." Thus the ingredients were bought the day before and on the day, I cooked the selected  "special" following the recipe to the T... Much to my disappointment it wasn't as appreciated as the non-specials. My husband and I both agreed that it was too heavy for home cooking and wasn't all that special.... In due time I forgot about it completely....

until the other day just out of whim I picked up a pack of baby sweet corn from the groceries and while flipping through the pages of my trusted cookbook, bumped into  Veg "Makhanwala" yet again. I wasn't too keen on trying it this time but after a little thought I decided to try it once more, this time with a twist of ingredients... Instead of the heavy cream and butter I decided to use poppy seed paste and skimmed milk and left the greater part of the recipe untouched.. The resulting dish was exemplary... It was comforting and flavorful without being too rich... and paired with rotis and raita, it made the perfect summer meal. 

Since then I have cooked my version many times and each time it turns out to be gorgeous. With the sweetness of milk, carrot and baby sweet corn, it tastes a bit sweetish and that is probably one of the reasons why my almost four year old enjoys it too. Packed with fibers and nutrients from green beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower and baby corn, it makes a wonderful kid-friendly dish that the family can enjoy together. Also with its slightly creamy texture it is great for entertaining  guests.... 

Vegetable "Makhanwala" (made light)
Literally Veg Makhanwala means buttery vegetable curry... the version here however is lightened. Here an assortment of vegetables are simmered in skimmed milk and poppy seed  paste to prepare a creamy comforting curry ideal for summer.

Recipe adapted from by Tarla Dalal 
Total time: 45 minutes + preparation time                                                                            Serves: 4

  • For grinding:
    • 1 medium sized onions (preferably red)
    • 2 medium sized tomatoes or 3 small tomatoes
    • 2 (fat) cloves of garlic
    • 1 inch ginger
  • For tempering:
    • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
    • ½ tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 clove
    • 1 green cardamom
    • 1 bay leaf
    • ½ tsp turmeric powder
    • ¼ tsp kashmiri mirch powder (or ⅛ tsp red chilli powder)
    • ¼ tsp salt
  • Other ingredients
    • ½ cup, thinly sliced carrots (1 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into short thin strips)
    • ½ cup  green beans, trimmed and cut into ¾ inch pieces
    • ½ cup  baby corns, trimmed, quartered and cut into ¾ inch pieces
    • heaped ½ cup  frozen peas
    • small cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
    • ½ cup + 3 tbsp + 3 tbsp  skimmed milk, warm (not to be used all at once)  
    • pinch of baking soda
    • ½ tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves
    • 2 tsp ground poppy seed*
    • salt to taste
    • 1 teaspoon cornflour (optional)
    • 2 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish
*I dry grind the poppy seeds in bulk and store it in the refrigerator, this leaves it a little grainy. For a smooth paste, my friend recommends soaking the poppy seeds in water for at least 30 minutes, before grinding it. According to her, the paste is smoother if one soaks it well in advance.
Cooking Directions
  1. Blend the onion, tomato, ginger and garlic to a smooth paste and keep aside.
  2. Soak the kasuri methi in 3 tablespoons of warm milk, the ground poppy seed in ½ cup warm milk and keep aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium sized kadhai.
  4. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, clove and green cardamom to the oil. Stir and saute until the cumin seeds splutter and the clove and green cardamom swell up. Then add the turmeric powder, kashmiri mirch powder and half teaspoon of salt and cook for a minute.  
  5. Next stir in the tomato-onion paste, lower the heat, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, checking once every few minutes so that the masala does not burn and stick to the base of the kadhai.
  6. Once the oil begins to release from the sides, add the vegetables into the kadhai, mix well, cover and cook over low flame for 10-12 minutes. By then the masala might begin to stick to the bottom of the kadhai. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and a pinch of baking soda, then using a wooden spatula scrape off the brown bits from the kadhai. 
  7. Mix the ingredients well, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Now stir in the kasuri methi along with the milk in which it was soaked. Mix well, then add half cup water, adjust the salt, cover and cook until the vegetables are done.
  8. Finally stir in the poppy seed paste along with the milk in which it was soaked, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  9. The gravy at this point might look a bit grainy. If it does, dissolve one teaspoon cornflour in 2 tablespoons of water and stir it into the gravy and cook until the raw smell of cornflour goes away. (This smoothens the texture of the gravy.)
  10. Switch off the heat, garnish the curry with chopped coriander leaves and serve.
Notes :
  • If you like your vegetables to be crunchy, you can steam them for 15 minutes and then add them to the tomato-onion paste. 
  • I add the pinch of baking soda so that the milk does not split. If you know of any other ingredient that keeps the milk from splitting, you can use that instead. 
  • In the past when the weather was cooler I used milk at every step instead of water. As expected the extra milk make the dish creamier and a little more sweet.   


  1. Interesting recipe, would love to try, bookmarked.

  2. This looks so lovely and delicious! I would love it with a big bowl of rice instead!

    1. This is wonderful with rice too. I just love the flavors of all the vegetables in it.

  3. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing with us at #AnythingGoes

  4. I've pinned this lovely, flavourful dish to my Vegetarian Recipes board on Pinterest. I love how you have made it lighter and healthier, Tanusree. Thank you for sharing it with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

  5. What a delicious dish, that we will really enjoy. Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday this week.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  6. Hi Tanu sree, nice clicks, very tempting veg makhanwala, nice combo of beg.
    I am celebrating my First Blog Anniversary-http://herbsspicesandtradition.blogspot.ca/2015/05/my-first-blog-anniversary-event.html
    There is a event and a give away. Please join, it is open for everybody.


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Best, Tanusree

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