Mustard seeds and white pepper. Root vegetables, topinambour, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, carrot, white radish…..

For future reference and restaurant translations – topinambour is a Jerusalem artichoke. Who knew?

But here it’s the white pepper that deserves a little attention. Not much used it would seem perhaps because it is thought it is just the bland cousin of the black peppercorn. Not so. Check it out. White pepper is pungent to the point that it reminds some of cow manure. Sorry. But think about it. Nostalgia pushes me to keep it in the pantry. My paternal grandmother kept it on the kitchen table for every meal time it seemed. The white powder made me sneeze and reinforced my already strong addiction to mashed turnip and green cabbage, the staples she presented us with most times dusted with white pepper and mashed with butter.

They’re only vegetables, they’re banal, they’re rooty, they’re brute and earthy and don’t cost very much but behind their seemingly ordinary demeanor lies bowls of warming chunks spiked with just a few simple flavours some of which will have been lying around your kitchen forgotten.

Slowly braised vegetables in brown mustard seeds and white pepper



1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon white pepper, turmeric
1 stock cube preferably msg free and low in salt

Choose your vegetables - use  sweet potato, plain potato, pumpkin, cabbage, white radish, kale,red cabbage, onions, whatever you have. Chop into rough chunks. If using potato finely slice them so they can cook easily. You’ll need a wide deep pan if you have a lot of veg.

First allow a little oil or butter to heat. I use nut oil with a little butter. Toast 1 teaspoon of brown mustard seeds and add a good half teaspoon of white pepper – seasoning your pan. Slowly add the vegetables in no particular order.  Keep the heat high for a couple of minutes and toss everything around letting them coat in the oily spices. Add a teaspoon of  turmeric to the mix.

If you have one on hand dissolve a stock cube in a little hot water – preferably one free of MSG and too much salt. Add this to the pan.
Let the veg absorb a little of the stock then add 2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and let simmer until much of the water has been absorbed. No need to boil the vegetables to death, keep a little bite, don’t let anything get mushy.

The result is a chunky veggie dish great as a side or alone and the white pepper really stands out…