This is a recipe from our family friend Aunty Eva which I tweaked a bit over the years.
Tsimmes is a chunky Ashkenazi vegetable stew ideal for Passover with brisket or before the Yom Kippur fast when you want something filling. Kerala where the community of Cochin Jews have resided for centuries has many traditional vegetable stews like the famous Avial. This stew has a delicate hint of spice and uses tamarind instead of orange juice.
Sweet and Spicy Tsimmes- Cochin Jewish style
1/4 cup vegetable oil (no corn oil if kosher for passover)
16 pearl or sambhar onions peeled (use quartered white onions if you prefer)
1/2 kg carrots, lightly scraped and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 kg ratale or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½ -inch chunks
1 kg pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1½ -inch chunks
200 grams raw banana or plantain peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (optional) or unpeeled Russet potatoes
1 cup good quality vegetable stock
1.5 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons tamarind extract whisked into 1 cup water
2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, diced or use margarine for a lactose free dish
3-4 dried red chillies whole (Kashmiri or Bedgi)
1 dried star anise (seeds removed)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar crumbled if required
In a large (10- to 11-inch) ovenproof pot heat the vegetable oil, add the star anise, sambhar or pearl onions and red chillies, and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a light golden colour.
Add the carrots and saute 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, stock, ginger, tamarind juice, ghee or butter, turmeric, nutmeg, 1 tablespoon salt, and combine.
Bring the liquid to a simmer on top of the stove until. vegetables are just tender but not over cooked or mushy.
Stir carefully, taste and adjust for seasonings, and serve warm.