Rooting for Turnips

Kasa's way with turnips could revolutionize the root's standing

Turnips aren't the first vegetable that comes to mind when trying to convert an unadventurous eater.

Yet Anamika Khanna, chef and co-owner of Kasa, which is due to open its second branch later this week in the Marina, was a sucker for shulgum da saag, a chunky puree (saag) of spiced turnips (shulgum).

When growing up in the heavily Punjabi Hounslow neighborhood of London, Khanna shied away from most of the dishes made by her aunt, the family's favorite cook. But Pinky Auntie's shulgum was a delirium-inducing exception.

"It has butter and sugar in it, so you actually enjoy the bitterness," says Khanna. Do you ever. The mashed turnips anchor the backdrop, and the heady wallop of fresh-ground cinnamon and fiery glow of both dried red and fresh green chiles suffuse the dish.

At Kasa, the shulgum is in steady rotation, but only as a special (i.e., there's no guarantee what day the dish might be served; call ahead to check availability). So, to satisfy our cravings, we secured Khanna's recipe (click here to download the recipe).

Turnips, a rare ingredient in Indian cuisine, are the standard base, but we've occasionally substituted watermelon radishes to startling, magenta effect.

Kasa, 4001 18th St. (at Noe St.), 415-621-6940; 3115 Fillmore St. (at Filbert St.), 415-896-4008 or kasaindian.com