This is a quick vegetable dish that you can make with left over beets. I started with a mix of Chioggia Beets and Yellow Beets which are at peak sweetness right now. This recipe is inspired by my travels to Kerala, India where the local Keralan cuisine is characterized by a lighter touch akin to California Cuisine where, instead of using heavy cream as a base and to thicken sauces, you find an abundance of coconut products.
This recipe diverges from a traditional Thoran since there are no curry leaves used but the other big South Indian spices are well represented: Black Mustard Seeds, Turmeric and Ginger. Interestingly, Keralan food typically eschews garlic and onions as these foods are deemed ‘Rajastic” which translates to overly stimulating. From a culinary standpoint, garlic and onions can overpower a food and this dish is meant to allow the earthiness and sweetness of the beets to come through while providing textural counterpoints in the crunchy mustard seeds and chewy coconut.
2 Cups Cubed Cooked Beets (steamed for 20 minutes)
1 Tablespoon Ghee or Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Ginger Root
A few Cardamom Pods
Half a Cinnamon stick
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
Heat the spices for a few minutes over high heat until the mustard seeds start to pop, reserving the turmeric and coconut. Add the beets, turn down the heat to medium and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the turmeric and coconut, stir and serve.
Note: You can use any type of beet though red beets typically require more steaming time compared to Chioggia or Yellow Beets. Chioggia beets and yellow beets are easier to peel and cook compared to red beets and have a lighter flavor that many people prefer compared to red beets. Finally, they are much easier to clean up after and don’t stain everything red so give them a try this season.
Coleen Murphy, ND, LAc.