Recipe: Jaju from The Druk Girl
I was not feeling great today and didn’t have much interest in cooking at all. Additionally, an attempt at a different recipe was thwarted by my own failure to buy the correct ingredient, so I wasn’t less than my normally positive self towards cooking and trying something new.
While I was on the couch doing some lazy research to see what recipes I’d make next week to catch up after this week’s deficit, when I decided to learn more about Bhutan. It’s a small (under 800K population), landlocked nation between China and India with a 1000% more awesome local name which translates to ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’.
Most sites I read emphasized how important cheese is to the Bhutanese – mostly from yaks or cows. Meat is also center stage of most meals, meaning that I was not feeling all that optimistic about finding something appropriate to veganise.
Enter Jaju – which basically means ‘vegetable’ in Dzongkha, and is a catch all for a kind of vegetable and milk soup in Bhutan. There are varying accounts of what this would have originally been made from including dried turnip leaves, local spinach, or seaweed. The ingredients (which I have written out below because they aren’t easy to grab from the video I linked to above) are really simple and while I did expect it would taste fine, I didn’t expect how phenomenal it would end up being. It was light but had a depth of flavour I wasn’t expecting – I think the milk brings out elements of the tomato and garlic in a way I’m not used to. I had to stop myself from eating the entire pot, and after my partner tried it he requested it to be added to our normal food rotation immediately.
I highly recommend you make this – especially if you’re feeling a bit blurgh. It took 15 minutes from start to finish and the only change I’d make is doubling the quantities so you have leftovers (or seconds and thirds).
- Vegetable oil
- 1/2 white onion – diced
- 4 cloves garlic – crushed or finely chopped
- 1/2 tomato – diced
- Green chilies to taste
- 1 1/2 cups water/stock
- 1/2 cup milk (I used oat milk)
- 150g spinach, cut into bite sized pieces (I used baby spinach)
- Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok. When hot add onion and fry for 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and chilies and fry for an additional minute.
- Add tomato and fry while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes.
- Add water/stock and bring to boil. Replace lid and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove lid and add milk and bring back up to the boil. Replace lid and let simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove lid and add spinach and replace lid for a minute. Remove lid and stir wilted spinach into the liquid, then replace and let simmer for 3 minutes.
Note: I did not have any chilies in the house so I added sriracha at the end. Chili crisp was good on it too.