Vegetables and split chickpeas in spinach sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

Sai Bhaji is the national dish of Sindh, in the Indus Valley, the site of the world’s most ancient civilization. A selection of vegetables mixed with split Bengal gram are cooked together until they reach a soft, pulpy texture.


  • 125 g//¾ cup split Bengal gram (channa dhal or skinless split chickpeas)
  • 225 g/8 oz potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
  • 125 g/oz carrots, scraped and cut into 2.5cm/1in chunks
  • 1 large aubergine (eggplant), cut into 2.5cm/1in chunks
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp dill leaves, roughly chopped
  • 250 g/9 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 225 g/8 oz canned chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp sunflower oil or light olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 10 ml/2 tsp ginger purée
  • 10 ml/2 tsp garlic purée
  • 2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded if preferred)
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small tomato, cut into julienne strips, to garnish
  • plain (all-purpose) flour and Indian bread, to serve


  1. Wash the split Bengal gram, transfer to a large bowl and soak in cold water for 30–60 minutes. Drain well, then put them into a pan with the potatoes, carrots, aubergine and dill.

  2. Pour in 425ml/15fl oz/ cups water and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

  3. Add the spinach and salt to the pan and stir for 1–2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Cover the pan and cook for 10–15 minutes, then remove from the heat.

  4. Mash the vegetables lightly, making sure that the potatoes are mashed well in order to thicken the sauce. Add the chopped tomatoes and return the pan to the heat. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then set aside.

  5. In a separate pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies, stirring regularly, until the mixture begins to brown. Stir in the turmeric and add this spice mixture to the vegetables. Stir to mix thoroughly.

  6. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the julienne strips of tomato and serve with Plain Boiled Rice or any Indian bread.

Per portion Energy 336kcal/1406kJ; Protein 12.2g; Carbohydrate 42.7g, of which sugars 16g; Fat 14.1g, of which saturates 1.7g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 214mg; Fibre 9.6g; Sodium 124mg.