Last week at the farmers’ market, I bought a vegetable with which I have never cooked: turnips.

I’ve only even eaten turnip once before; my mom’s not fond of it, so it doesn’t normally enter the house. However, they looked absolutely beautiful– creamy purple-and-white– so I couldn’t help myself. They sat in the refrigerator for a few days, because cooking with something totally new is rather intimidating. Whatever I made with them had to have a strong flavor, to cover the bitterness that many people dislike about turnips. I didn’t have any idea what that should be, so I waited.

Finally, this morning, I had a bit of inspiration. While I was browsing Pinterest for curry recipes,  I came across a fantastic-looking recipe for chicken Tikka Masala. I thought that it would be interesting to make a vegan version of that dish, and since it has such a strong flavor, it seemed like the perfect thing to use my turnips in.

I browsed several recipes to get a feel for the basic ingredients, since I have little experience with this dish. It’s spicier than what I normally make, which makes for a really nice change. It’s probably far from authentic, but that’s okay– it still tastes great.


Turnip Tikka Masala

Serves 5-6


  • olive oil
  • 5 turnips, peeled & chopped
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 C tomato purée
  • 2 T garam masala
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 1/2 C coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lime (or lemon)


  1. Toss turnips with the first cumin, coriander, and cayenne on the list. Cook in a pan with a bit of olive oil until tender. Move to a bowl.
  2. In the same pan, heat more olive oil. Add onion and sauté until fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 more minutes. Add the tomato purée, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne. Mix, then bring to a boil. Put the turnips back into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 more minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and lime juice, and salt to taste. Serve with brown rice.