Beetroots are a totally under-utilized vegetable in Indian cuisine. As a child growing up, beets were never one of my favorites but now I enjoy them immensely. They are delicious, very healthy and full of lots of vitamins and minerals. They are a great source of potassium, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, iron and both vitamins A and C.
If you are not a big fan of beets, do try this recipe – I’m sure you will become a big beet fan after just one bite! My Roasted Beetroot Raita is not only delicious, but also absolutely lovely in its color – a gorgeous deep magenta pink! A raita is simply an Indian salad, usually yogurt based. Needless to say, this pretty dish always seems to take center stage on any dining table.
If your beets come with their greens, don’t throw them out. Beet greens are a wonderful and delicious source of iron and can be used in any vegetable, dal or stir fry dish (similar to spinach).
Since beets are notorious for leaving stains, it may be a good idea to use gloves and an apron when peeling and preparing the beets.
ROASTED BEETROOT RAITA (Roasted Beetroot Salad with Creamy Yogurt)
2 medium size beets, washed & trimmed
1½-2 cups thick yogurt, whisked until smooth
½ tsp black mustard seeds
pinch of asafetida (hing)
6-8 fresh curry leaves
2 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
salt & pepper, to taste
1+ tbsp oil (vegetable or canola), as needed
pinch of ground cumin powder for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the beets on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with a little oil. Then fold the aluminum foil to create a completely sealed packet and place on a baking dish or tray in the center of the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the beets are completely tender (carefully stick a knife in the center of the beet to check). The roasting time really varies depending upon the size of the beets. Now remove the beets and allow them to cool slightly. When they are cool enough to handle, gently remove the outer peels – they should come off very easily. If you are worried about beet stains, gently rub off the beet peels by using a paper towel. Just rub the beet between a dry paper towel or simply wear disposable kitchen gloves. Now cut the beet into large matchstick pieces & set aside until needed.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt with the beets and stir gently to combine. Remember to season with salt & pepper. Now in a small frying pan on medium high heat, add a tbsp of oil. When hot, carefully add the black mustard seeds & allow them to splatter. After 30 or so seconds, add the asafetida, curry leaves & green chilies. After another 30 seconds or so, pour this entire hot oil mixture over the beets & yogurt. Garnish with sprinkled ground cumin powder & cilantro leaves. Serve slightly chilled with warm chapatis and fresh Basmati rice as part of any delicious Indian meal.