Turnip Poriyal| South Indian Turnip Curry

Turnip Poriyal refers to a South Indian-style stir-fry made using turnips (duh!). Today, I am going to share with you all our simple family recipe for this delicious poriyal.

Turnip Poriyal, Tamilnadu style

Turnips in South Indian cooking

Turnips (aka ‘shalgam’ in Hindi) possess a pungent smell and slightly sharp taste, similar to radishes. Stir-frying them does away with most of the pungency, and the resultant poriyal is quite delicious. If you haven’t tried Turnip Poriyal yet, you should – most people would find it difficult to guess the vegetable used in the dish, if they haven’t seen it being made. 😊 Turnips are full of health benefits, as this Healthline article suggests, and this poriyal is a great way to use them.

I have seen turnips being commonly used in kurma, sambar and vegetable biryani in South India, apart from poriyal. This Turnip Poriyal is a family favourite, and we love having it with rice and rasam or sambar.

The purple and white turnips that I used. Ain’t they pretty?!

I have used the purple-and-white variety of turnip to make this poriyal. Here in Bangalore, we mostly get the similar, green knol-khol or kohlrabi, also called German Turnip. The purple-and-white one is available only occasionally. I love to cook with the purple-and-white turnips, considering they are much more easier to peel and chop than the green ones. So, when I found them at the vegetable shop recently, I absolutely had to get some! They looked so stunningly beautiful that I just had to shoot them before cooking. 😁

What goes into this Turnip Poriyal?

This is a very simple stir-fry that requires only a few ingredients. I use minimal oil to make it.

There is a basic tempering of mustard, asafoetida, green chillies and curry leaves. This poriyal turns out mildly spiced, because green chillies are the only ingredient used to introduce heat.

Like most South Indian poriyal varieties, there is a generous amount of grated coconut added to this one too. This, along with the bit of jaggery I use, adds a whole lot of flavour to the dish.

How to make Turnip Poriyal

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 2-4:

1. 2 medium-sized turnips, roughly 3 cups when peeled and chopped

2. 2 green chillies

3. 1 sprig of curry leaves

4. 1/2 tablespoon oil

5. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

6. 2 pinches of asafoetida

7. Salt to taste

8. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

9. 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut

10. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander


Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom right and left: Steps 4 and 5

1. Chop off the tops and ends of the turnips. Peel them.

2. Chop the peeled turnip finely. Also slit the green chillies length-wise and keep them ready.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and let them sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Now, add the chopped turnip to the pan, along with a little water and a bit of salt. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium.

5. Cover and cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the turnip starts getting tender. Uncover intermittently to stir. If the water has dried up, add a bit more.

Left: Step 6, Right top and bottom: Step 7

6. When the turnip is about 80% done, add salt to taste and jaggery powder. Add some more water if needed. Cover again and continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes or till the turnip is completely done. Stir intermittently.

7. When the turnip is done and all the water has dried up, add in the grated coconut. Mix well. Cook everything together for a minute, then switch off heat. Your Turnip Poriyal is ready. Garnish with the finely chopped coriander.

Is this Turnip Poriyal vegan and gluten-free?

The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It is not gluten-free because of the addition of asafoetida. Simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, in case you want to make this dish gluten-free. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used purple-and-white turnip here. You may use the more commonly available German Turnip (also called knol-khol or kohlrabi) instead. You can use radishes to make poriyal in a similar manner, too.

2. You may skip adding the jaggery, but I personally recommend using it. It helps cut down the pungency of the turnip to a great extent, and makes the poriyal very flavourful.

3. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use as per personal taste preferences. Use fresh, grated coconut for best results.

4. You may add a couple of dry red chillies to the tempering too. Here, I haven’t.

5. We don’t usually add turmeric to this poriyal, as we prefer keeping it white. You may use turmeric, if you prefer it.

6. Do not add too much water while cooking the turnip. Just add a few tablespoons to help with the cooking process. Cook covered.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

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