Broccoli Bell Pepper Zunka

If you’re wondering what ‘Zunka’ is, like I did…here is a little intro: Zunka is traditional Maharashtrian dish, where vegetables are sauteed and then sprinkled with a spicy chickpea mixture, such that the chickpea mixture forms a crust around the veggies, adding flavor and texture to the veggies. It was originally devised by Marathi housewives as a way to ‘stretch the buck’, since chickpea flour was much cheaper and ready available than fresh vegetables and would help put enough of the dish on the table to feed a large family. This is now a tradition in most Maharashtrian homes, and not just for the ‘money saving’ attributes mentioned above. 🙂

Any vegetable you have on hand or a combination of veggies can be used. Typical choices tend to be: Bell pepper, Cabbage, Okra etc. I have used Broccoli and sweet Red bell pepper here. This is a dry vegetable dish and can be used as a side for rice or roti.

2 heads Broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1 large red pepper, cut into cubes
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1/2 cup chickpea flour(besan)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt, or to taste.

In a bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, turmeric powder, garam masala, chilli powder and coriander powder and 1/2 tsp of salt. Add the remaining tbsp of oil and mix it thoroughly with your fingers into the flour mixture. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let it splutter. Add the garlic and asafoetida. Stir to infuse the oil with the flavor of garlic and asafoetida. Add the broccoli florets and saute for 2 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and stir fry for another couple of minutes. Add 1/2 tsp salt and stir. The veggies will let out water. Stir fry the veggies, don’t cover – because that will steam the veggies and not have them crispy.

Gently sprinkle the chickpea flour mixture on top of the veggies and toss to coat. The flour will stick to the veggies. Keep sprinkling and stirring and slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the veggies. It will appear that you have more chickpea flour than is needed, but the idea is to coat the flour over the veggies and in the nooks and crannies that the broccoli florets have. Sprinkle and saute until the entire flour mixture is used up. Keep on medium flame and cook such that the chickpea flour forms a crust over the veggies, about 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with roti or rice and dhal.

Verdict: This was a delicious side dish and a great way to eat broccoli. I was picking off pieces from the bowl while taking the pictures. It reminded me of a pakora or bajji, without the excess oil. It is important to keep the broccoli and the bell pepper crunchy and not get mushy to truly savor this dish. The dish presents varied flavors and textures – with the bell pepper rendering a sweet taste in combination with the spicy chickpea covering. Add to the fact that this dish is rich in protein from the chickpea flour and essential nutrients from the veggies. Could make a great filling for a wrap too.

I am submitting this delicious dish to our own event: ‘Serve it – Stir Fried’, happening here at OhTastenSee and Krithi’s Kitchen. Also to:
1. Bon Vivant – Savory Moments
2. ‘CC – Vegan Diet: Only Plant Based’
3. Holi Fest – Colorful Palette
4. My Legume Love Affair #45 even series by Susan of ‘The Well Seasoned Cook’.
5. Comfort Food
6. Healthy Morsels – Pregnancy

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  1. jassu

    God bless you. I have to eat broccoli for medical reasons, every day for lunch. This recipe will help me to eat the broccoli. I like to eat bhelpuri and chaat recipes. Can you please tell how to put broccoli in chaat recipes. Thanks.

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