You might think that beetroot is unknown in India, but in fact it is eaten all over the country. In this Keralan beetroot and coconut dish, big delicious flavours are created very simply. For that reason, I keep coming back to this recipe time and time again. It is often served as a side dish with other meat or vegetable curries. I like to eat it with dal, or cucumber and mint raita (see here) and tamarind and caramelized red onion rice.
The recipe comes from an unassuming little restaurant in Kochi called Casa Linda, run by a beautiful woman with a smile so large and a heart so big that there is practically no space for anything else in the room.
- Yield: 4 as part of a main course
- 800 g raw beetroot
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 20 fresh curry leaves
- 55 g desiccated or fresh gated coconut
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1½ green finger chillies
- 3 cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 300 ml Greek yoghurt
- 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Top and tail the beetroot, place in a pan of cold water on a medium heat, bring to the boil and cook until tender and a knife slides easily through them. This could take from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beetroot.
- Meanwhile, make the coconut paste. Add half the mustard seeds, half the curry leaves, all the coconut, garlic, green chillies, ginger, cumin seeds and half the yoghurt to a food processor, and blend to a fine paste. Add the remaining yoghurt and blend again, then place in a bowl and set aside.
- Once the beetroot has boiled, drain and leave to cool, then slip the skins off with your fingers or the back of a knife (wear rubber gloves if you don’t fancy having pink hands for the rest of the day). Cut the beetroot in half and then into wedges, 1–2 cm at the thick end.
- In a large lidded frying pan, heat the oil and, once hot, add the remaining curry leaves and mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the beetroot, stir-fry for a couple of minutes, then add the coconut yoghurt paste and the salt. Stir to mix, pop the lid on the pan and cook for 8 minutes, then take off the heat and serve.