Winter Sabzi

Turmeric, mustard seed, and cumin perfume hearty winter vegetables in this plant-based Pakistani stew.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour 15 minutes


By Fatima Khawaja

Published on February 3, 2023

Welcome to SAVEUR’s column on making the most of local produce according to contributing editor Fatima Khawaja. Here you’ll find creative, unfussy meal ideas plus plenty of cooking advice—like what to do with that bumper crop of zucchini or how to store delicate heirloom tomatoes. Follow along, and you’ll learn how to turn the season’s bounty into easy plant-based meals.

Sabzi is the generic term for the Pakistani vegetarian dishes that commonly play second fiddle to our heavy meat-centric mains. But in this winter sabzi recipe, root vegetables take center stage. Sweet parsnips replace half of the typical carrots, which cook down gently with plenty of warm South Asian spices. Feel free to cut the vegetables bite size or smaller—just make sure they are the same size so they cook evenly without one turning into mush.


  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ½ tsp. brown mustard seed
  • ½ tsp. cumin seed
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • ¾ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • ¼ tsp. red chile powder
  • ½ lb. parsnips, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • ½ lb. carrots, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • 1 russet potato, cut in 1-in. pieces
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • Steamed white rice or roti, for serving


Step 1

To a large wok set over medium-high heat add the oil. When the oil is hot and just beginning to shimmer, add the mustard seed and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant and beginning to color, about 1½ minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until they begin to break down and the mixture starts to turn saucy, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, turmeric, black pepper, and chile powder, and cook, stirring frequently until very fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Stir in the parsnips, carrots, and 1 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 15–20 minutes.

Step 2

Stir in the potatoes and peas, and another ½ cup of water, and continue cooking, adding a bit more water as needed, until the vegetables are very tender but not mushy and the cooking liquid is thick and saucy, 15–20 minutes. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning to taste with more salt and black pepper, then serve the winter sabzi hot, with rice or roti on the side.

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