I am obsessed with beetroots. I don’t know what fascinates me more - the dense colour of beetroots or the beautiful textures inside that resembles topographical illustrations of Earth, tinted in red. If there is one dish that I crave for during the summers, it’s this Cold Beetroot Salad. It is cooling, delicious and super easy to make.
From my treasured collection of cookbooks, one of my favourite recipes also happens to be a beetroot recipe. It is the Shamandar (Beetroot) Dip from Suzzane Husseini’s cookbook - When Suzanne Cooks. Suzanne tweaks the traditional salad recipe and roasts her beetroots before tossing it in a dressing. This apparently brings out the sweetness of the beetroots. The result is a delicate taste of juicy beetroots. Instead of boiling the beetroots, I have often grilled the beetroots, while making today’s salad recipe.
Talking about beetroots, a few years’ ago on a trip to Poland, we stopped in the spa town of Rabka. In a traditional restaurant called Siwy Dym, they served the chilled Polish Chlodnik. Served with halved hard-boiled eggs on top, this cold beetroot soup is almost a staple in Poland. Chlodnik was not only refreshing but its light pink hue was such a treat to the eyes - almost like a piece of art. The Pkhlovana Khachapuri, a Georgian style bread with cheese and beetroot filling, is another delicious creation with beetroot that has captured my heart. I learnt how to make these in a roadside family style restaurant in Pasanauri, a small town 90 kilometres away from Tbilisi. Chopped beetroot leaves and the salty Ossetian cheese were used as stuffing inside the Georgian khachapuris and the making of these breads along with other traditional breads are a regional culinary legacy.
Coming back to the Indian subcontinent, almost every vegetable or fruit can be transformed into a sweet dessert pudding! It’s no surprise then that there is a beetroot halwa made with grated beetroots slow-cooked in milk with ghee and sugar, which I sometimes dream of. While that could be an exotic dessert during a festive dinner, cool down during the day with this Cold Beetroot Salad. Chill and enjoy!
Cold Beetroot Salad
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 1 hour
2 Beetroots (almost 450gms)
3 dry red chillies
3 green chillies
1 tsp black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves, fresh
1 tsp white oil
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
1/2 lime, freshly squeezed
Boil the beetroots in little water (enough as to boil them evenly) or grill them.
Peel the skin off the beetroots and chop into ½-inch sized cubes.
Stir in salt and sugar into the yoghurt and whisk it well. Set aside in a bowl.
Heat oil in a tempering pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they start splattering, add dry red chillies, green chillies and curry leaves. Take off the flame after a short while before the chillies start to burn. Pour over the yoghurt.
Add the above yoghurt mixture to the boiled beetroots and combine well. Refrigerate for an hour.
Sprinkle roasted cumin powder and stir in the lime juice before serving.
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