December 13, 2009

Guest Recipe: Akhu Shaak- Whole Vegetables with a Spicy Peanut Stuffing


I’m ecstatic to deliver you a KO Rasoi guest recipe! I am so proud to tell you that this recipe was written and passed on to me by my dear mummy (to me, the best cook in the world!) Having learned from her father, who was a wonderful chef, she has been cooking with so much love for many years. I think all that is left to say about this is thank you mum for teaching me how to cook. I would have never started this blog if it wasn’t for her and my dad’s support and passion for cooking.

Akhu Shaak is what I like to call the Gujarati ‘roast dinner’! Which is why I believe it is a great vegetarian alternative to a roast Christmas dinner; there is stuffing, gravy and crispy bits in a single dish! Akhu (pronounced: aakHU) literally means ‘whole’ and shaak simply means ‘curry’. The vegetable stuffing is heavily spiced and is so wonderful for big get-togethers. You can make trays full of however many vegetables you like and just keep them in the oven, covered with foil. Then just remove the foil and wait for the tops to crisp up before you serve. The crispy corners are the best! There will be no fighting over crackling this Christmas, just fighting over crispy akhu shaak corners!

Mum says: Before you begin reading this recipe and start thinking it’s FAR TOO complicated with this long list of ingredients – please don’t be put off. Trust me, it’s easy. You simply need to throw in all the masala ingredients. If you are missing one or two masala ingredients it will STILL work. It’s a VERY forgiving recipe and well worth trying.

Serves 4-5

2 Baby potatoes (floury type, E.G. Maris Piper in UK)
2 Baby aubergines
2 Baby onions
4 large mild chillies (I used green)
2 Med ripe bananas
You can also use any baby vegetables that you may have at hand for example, young okra, baby courgettes, small bell peppers, unripe green tomatoes, tindora (ivy gourd) or any small vegetables that you may like. We often add a handful of peas on the top of everything in the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Ingredients for the masala stuffing

2 tbsp desiccated coconut
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts – chopped in the chilli chopper
1 green minced chilli
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Chilli powder to taste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup of finely chopped fresh coriander
½ cup fresh methi/fenugreek leaves chopped
1 finely chopped onion
¼ cup sunflower oil
½ cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder

For tempering

¼ cup cooking oil
4-5 fresh/dry curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida

For the Sauce

1 tbsp tomato puree
1 ½ cups of water
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Chilli powder to taste


1. Dry roast the chickpea flour in a non stick pan with cumin powder and coriander powder until it emits a wonderful, toasted aroma (usually this takes around 2 minutes on a medium heat).

2. Mix in all of the other ingredients for the masala stuffing minus the oil. Set aside. Simple.

3. Prepare your vegetables, leaving the stalks intact make lengthways slits through them without cutting them in half – if you do by mistake then don’t worry they taste/work just as well. Set them aside.

4. Heat ¼ cup sunflower oil to smoking temperature and pour this over the masala stuffing ingredients you mixed together earlier. Be careful because it will splutter and sizzle.

5. Now stand back and nose the aroma the masala emits the moment the hot oil hits it…AHHHHH!

6. Now mix the oil and masala into a paste so it is ready for the vegetables to be stuffed with.

7. Gently pull apart the slit vegetables and start stuffing the masala into them, taking care not to split them apart.


8. Place the vegetables into a microwave proof plate, cover with cling film making sure you have pricked a couple of air holes for steam to escape. You can steam them, but I find microwaving is quicker. Microwave them until they are half cooked. As various vegetables take different time to cook, I would suggest you cook them separately, for example all of the potatoes, then the aubergines and so forth.

9. Arrange the vegetables in a large oven tray.

10. In a wide pan heat the sunflower oil then add mustard seeds, when they start popping add cumin seeds, curry leaves, sesame seeds and asafoetida.


11. Add the tomato puree and water (for the sauce) and stir. (at this time I would normally add a handful of frozen peas or sweetcorn). Flavour this sauce to your taste using salt, sugar and chilli powder and cook for 4-5 minutes.


12. Pour this sauce over the stuffed vegetables and make sure they are all coated.

13. Cover with foil and cook in at 220 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook for a further ten minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until crispy on top.

14. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with hot rice, Gujarati daal, hot buttered chapattis, accompanied by all the trimmings like Gujarati style pickles, salads, green chillies and a cooling glass of yoghurt lassi.

Oh and please do remmeber to remove the banana skin while you eat! Although saying that in some parts of India, people make a dish out of the banana skin and chickpea flour in a form of a curry because it is edible… somewhat an acquired taste.

Keep sending in your creative recipes for the Create for a Chilli Chopper Competition!

Merry Christmas!

and Mum!

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35 responses to “Guest Recipe: Akhu Shaak- Whole Vegetables with a Spicy Peanut Stuffing”

  1. MaryMoh says:

    The recipe sure looks so long but then the dish looks so extremely delicious. I can imagine all the beautiful peanut and spice flavour combined. Throwing together everything is good advice. I would love to try that.

  2. Kanchan says:

    Always the best things come with long ingredient list ! It sure seems totally worthy. Can we prepare these without oven ? something similar to dry roast in kadai or shallow fry them?

  3. Anncoo says:

    Very flavourful dish ~~yummy.

  4. Tasty Trix says:

    Poppa Trix is salivating over this, and I am too! Your Mum is obviously an awesome cook and passed it down to you – thank her for me for this awesome recipe. It's not too late to do 12 days of Indian Christmas recipes, you know! ; )

  5. Sanjana says:

    Mary- For sure, just improvise because you really cannot go wrong with this dish!

    Kanchan- I agree! Yeah of course you can cook it however you like. You could even cook them fully in the microwave and then coat them in the sauce. Just be careful when handling the veggies because as they cook the will become soft and more fragile- so they may break up a little.

    Anncoo- Thank you! 🙂

  6. Sanjana says:

    Tasty Trix- Haha, you know how to make me giggle. She is fabulous and I will let her know 🙂 Lol, I would love to do 12 days of Indian Christmas but I have a little number up my sleeve for the coming week 🙂 Sort of a new series 🙂

  7. sangeeta says:

    i know how yummy it is…i make stuffed versions like this but i am going to follow this to the T very soon……delectable…n yes, easy it is…

  8. Sushma Mallya says:

    Really a worth trying one..Very nice recipe,looks so good..

  9. SE(Denufood) says:

    yummy yummy…is all I can say…love the stuffed vegetables..this sure is party please with all kinds of stuffed veggies..

  10. Ushnish Ghosh says:

    Dear Sanjana
    I just landed here following your comment there. Being a Hardcore non-vege, I always look for good vege dishes, as vege dishes are a delicacy for Non-vegies.
    This dish is very nice and new to me, specially the sweet note in the dish ( Bongs are very fond of any thing sweet). I am going to try this soon to surprise a Gujarati friend.
    Now let me explore what great recipes you have for me. Do have a look at my vege dishes
    Happy cooking and a have a great week ahead

  11. Siddhi Shirsat says:

    Hey sanjana…this stuffed veges luks damn tempting…i felt like having thm right now…this recipe is new to me, i had never seen mixed stuffed veges.They luks so yummy n spicy

  12. Kathy Gori says:

    my my..those don't look like complicated ingredients to me…; )
    i've got everything on your list in my cupboard..this sounds like a great dinner..i was going to make a green jackfruit curry for some vegetarian friends but this sounds like fun.

  13. Cooking Foodie says:

    This is yum and a delicious alternative to Akhu Shaak at my place! Love the masala…

  14. Vegetable Matter says:

    Sanjana, please send your mum to Texas for the holidays. I'd love to spend a week in the kitchen cooking by her side. Houston needs more Gujarati food and she can be the ambassador.

  15. Sanjana says:

    Sangeeta- So glad you're going to try it out! Please do let me know how it goes!

    Sushma- Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

    SE(Denufood)- Yeah it's really wonderful for a party- people can just pick out what they like 🙂 Which means everyone is happy with one dish!

    Ushnish- Aww wow I just went over to your blog- You have some VERY interesting recipes. I hope you and your friends enjoy this! Let me know how it goes for you!

    Siddhi- So glad you like the recipe! We make this when we have big family dinners and it always goes down well 🙂

    Kathy- I can always count on you to have everything 🙂 I know you are a pro at these kinds of dishes. Hmmm, jackfruit curry sounds delicious but I bet you this is better 😉 Hehe, please do let me know how it goes if you make it!

    Cooking Foodie- I would love to sample the version you have at home 🙂

  16. Sanjana says:

    Vegetable Matter- Hahaha, I would love to send her to Houston for a little break and some kitchen therapy! And perhaps a little wander around your fabulous veggie garden!

  17. experimentalculinarypursuits says:

    Mum's recipes are always the best, and your mum has a great one! This is a whole new way to stuff veggies for me and I can't wait to try it! Can you adopt me for Christmas so I can eat this? 😀

  18. Dolly says:

    Absolutely love your Gujarati "Roast Dinner". One more ingredient to be duly noted is Lots and Lots of Mother's love…UR Mum's Akhu Shaak looks just PERFECT !!!. So Now we know like Mother Like daughter.

  19. delhibelle says:

    Gosh,this looks gorgeous!

  20. Cardamom says:

    This is delicious and SO authentic…I love,love such bharela shaak ni recipes. I would love some keri no raas aney puris with this! thanks for a great idea, I'll be making this for our X-mas family dinner. 🙂

    happy holidays!


  21. redmenace says:

    Sounds fantastic. Thanks!

  22. Oraphan says:

    Wow! These stuffed veggies look oh so yummy! It sounds like a wonderful recipe as it was passed on to you by your mom, the world best chef! I believe it will be well worth it to try, can't wait!

  23. Mr. P says:

    I'm definitely going to try this, Sanjana. We often do curry nights and I like to make two kinds – one meat and one veggie – as my friends don't all eat meat. And I see no reason why this should be confined to Christmas only!

  24. Anonymous says:

    sanju fed up of eating bland shaaks made by you know who?. Come and make me a lovely dinner.

    saints bapu

  25. Sanjana says:

    Shelly- I would love to adopt you for Christmas! 😀

    Dolly- It is a great 'roast dinner' hehe aww thank you!

    delhibelle- Thank you!

    Cardamom- It would be perfect with keri no raas and puri! Hope you have an awesome Christmas!

    redmenace- Thanks a lot!

    Oraphan- I hope you enjoy it! 😀

    Mr P- You can make it anytime! It's a great party dish. Enjoy!

    Saints Bapu- Hehehe, I hope to bring some things to the Christmas get-together!

  26. Supriya says:

    Hi Sanjana, ur mom's Akhu Shaak looks so mouth-watering and festive.

  27. Nandini says:

    My fav veggies are stuffed and beautifully cooked! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  28. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    My best friend is Gujarati and every time I had dinner at her place in high school her mom made the most AMAZING food. I don't recall this dish but I bet it's every bit as wonderful as all those others. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  29. meeso says:

    Wow, this is absolutely amazing! Anybody would have to love this! I like how much variety it has and endless possibilities! Bookmarked! 😀

  30. Sanjana says:

    Supriya- Thank you so much! Mum will be really pleased to hear that!

    Xiaolu- Sounds like you've had some wonderful Gujarati food! I hope that this brings back some great memories for you!

    Meeso- Thanksss 😀 You can try it with pretty much anything and I'm sure it will turn out really well. I'm glad you like it and hope you try it!

  31. Annu says:

    Dear Sanjana,

    You are a fantastic cook. Blessed with magic hands (-: I have been after stuffed vegetable recipe especially the Gujarati style. So I am grateful that you have put your mum's version on your blog. I will try this out soon. You have a wonderful holidays.

  32. Anonymous says:

    So I am grateful that you have put your mum's version on your blog.

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  34. lavina agarwal says:

    such a yummy preparation…loved it!
    first time here…glad to follow you..lav

  35. Leanne says:

    Hi Sanjana, I used your recipe to cook for my family last night and it came out amazing!! I have never used an oven for cooking a curry!! instead of banana I used tindora (only because they needed using up and we didn’t have any banana) But I will be sure to try it again with. It will give me an excuse to eat it again. Tell your mother that she is amazing!! 🙂

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