To say I love beetroot would probably be an understatement. To say I adore it, am obsessed by it, think about it far more than is healthy, is probably a more accurate statement.
Which means, this has been a GREAT week. On the weekend I purchased the hugest bunch of fresh, baby beetroot I’ve ever seen. Plus, yet more beetroot arrived in my vegetable box this week. Oh dear, how awful, an excess of beetroot.
It gave me the chance to make one of my favourite dishes ever – a beetroot and tomato curry, from Madhur Jaffrey.
Why beetroot? Well firstly, it is of course, the most gorgeous colour. Plus it’s incredibly flexible – you can use it raw in salads, or wrap it in foil with a few herbs and some olive oil and then bake in the oven. You can add it to a tray of roasted vegies and you can even use it in a sandwich.
Beetroot is also, of course, really good for you. It’s high in fibre and packed full of the carotenoid antioxidants. It’s known in naturopathy as a food that assists the liver and gallbladder. Plus it’s high in vitamin C and folate, although some of these are lost when you cook it. For more about the healthy-ness of beetroot, take a look at my post on the nutritional value of beetroot.
When I was growing up in the UK, you could only buy whole pickled baby beetroots in glass jars and these were really quite sophisticated. As long as you had a special pickle fork, you could serve them at a party, or as part of a smorgasbord lunch. I LOVED the special pickle fork, thought it was really quite the grooviest kitchen implement, therefore loved beetroot, because I got to use the fork.
Cut to 1988, when I moved to Australia and suddenly beetroot was a sandwich and burger ingredient – how bizarre was that? While I wholeheartedly embraced this new use of beetroot, it was only when I started using the fresh stuff, that the obsession started. In fact, one of my first uses of fresh beetroot was this curry. Even more trivia – my first published recipe included beetroot – it was for vegan chocolate & beetroot cake with a spiced beetroot glaze
Enthusiastic? Yes. Obsessed? Almost certainly.
So here it is, probably my favourite recipe ever. I usually serve this with dal and rice, in fact this time, I made the lentil & cabbage dal.
Beetroot & tomato curry
This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking . I’ve made very few changes to the original recipe as it’s pretty much perfect – except that Madhur uses fresh tomatoes and I always make it with tinned – mainly because I can never be bothered to peel that many tomatoes. This time I also added mushrooms, for a change.
Oh yes, while it’s even better the next day, this time I discovered the leftovers are exceptionally good over a baked potato! Serves 4.
- 900g raw beetroot
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 whole dried chilli
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 800g tin of tomatoes
- 200g button mushrooms, cut in half
Cut the leaves and stalks off the beetroot, peel and cut into roughly 2cm cubes.
Heat the oil in a medium sized pan, with a lid. Once it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and chilli, stir once and add the garlic. Stir for about 10 seconds and then add the turmeric. Stir once and add the tomatoes (with juice) straight away. At this point the mixture will hiss and spit. Just put the lid on and wait for it to calm down.
Add the beetroot and mushrooms and then season with salt. Bring to a simmer. Then turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for about 45 mins – 1 hour, or until the beetroot is tender.
- Jaffrey, Madhur, Eastern Vegetarian Cooking, Arrow, London 1990.