“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if vegetables smelled as good as bacon” – Doug Larson

You can’t believe it? But in Panch Phoron Tarkari the vegetables actually smell better than any meaty dish possibly can! Not only is the smell irresistible, but it tastes heavenly too! I usually end up eating it straight from the pan.

Panch phoron is a Bengali spice mix of five seeds: Cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and nigella. These are traditionally used whole, fried in oil till they splutter to add a punch of flavour and aroma to different foods like fish, lentils and vegetables. A similar spice mix is used in Punjabi cuisine, called Achaari masala or pickling spices. They are often used in curries in combination with other spices and yogurt.

Fenugreek seeds can be overpowering and slightly bitter if used too many. That’s why I’ve reduced their quantity as compared to other seeds. If you can’t find all these exotic spices, no worries, just go with cumin seeds that are easily available everywhere.

This flavourful and healthy vegetarian dish is perfect for summer lunch. You can use your favourite seasonal vegetables or a mix of frozen vegetables.


4 medium potatoese, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium cauliflower head, florets separated
2 green bell peppers, cubed
1 cup peas, shelled
5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
2 teaspoon cumin seeds (zeera)
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds (rai)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
1/2 teaspoon black onion seeds (nigella, kalonji)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (haldi)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
green chilli peppers and coriander, chopped for garnishing

This Is What You Do:

Place a wok or big sauce pan on medium heat, pour 2 table spoons olive oil.Stir in ginger and garlic, add chilli flakes, turmeric, cumin, mustard, fenugreek, fennel and onion seeds. Stir fry for a few seconds or till the most amazing aroma from the spices hits your nostrils.

Reduce heat to low. Add potatoes, carrots, add 1/4 cup of water. If you are using mixed frozen vegetables, skip adding the water. Just cover and cook on very low heat till done. 

Cover for 6-7 minutes or till the potatoes and carrots are half cooked.

Add cauliflower, and peas and cover the vegetables. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. Add green bell pepper, cover cook for another 3 minutes.

Sprinkle salt and pour lemon juice over vegetable mix.

Garnish with green chillies and fresh coriander. Serve hot with roti, puri (puffed fried flatbread) or steamed rice and daal.

*You can use any of your favourite seasonal vegetables to make Panch Phoron Tarkari. Pumpkin, eggplants, green beans and cabbage taste great in the mix too.
At times milk is added to cook the vegetables instead of water.

*If cooking with fresh vegetables, add the ones that take longer to cook first to the pan, like potatoes and carrots. When these are half done, add the rest.

* If you don’t have all the exotic spices where you live, just add cumin seeds, red chilli flakes, turmeric and salt. Skip the rest. The vegetable mix would still be very tasty and aromatic.

Serves 2

2 Replies to “Panch Phoron Tarkari, Vegetables in Five Spices”

  1. I have used panch phoran masala in another dish and liked it. I do have the mix ready and I liked your recipe which used a combination of veggies. Would be so yummy and flavourful

  2. I absolutely love this! I adore mix vegetables, but somehow, don’t make it Indian style, just Chinese or South East Asian. Definitely going to give this a go, Sapphire will love it too!

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