Updated: February 9, 2021 8:15:43 am
Earlier this week, I looked at the very unappetising palak dal and rice that was on the lunch menu of the day, and realised that there was no way I could eat it without at least one element that had a little oomph. I rummaged through the fridge to find something that could be turned into a quick subzi, when I saw two sad-looking beetroots that had been lying ignored for over a week. As a matter of fact, I had bought them myself, although I can’t remember what I was thinking when I picked them up and added them to my overflowing basket. The fact of the matter is that I really dislike beetroot. It’s earthy sweetness, which is what appeals to most of its fans, is exactly what put me off about it, so if I ever have to eat it, I prefer it cooked with lots of garlic or pickled in vinegar so that it tastes a little less beetroot-y.
Since almost any vegetable can be turned into a chutney – as I learnt many years ago when one of my mom’s friends served me a stunning cabbage chutney – that’s what happened to the beetroots in my fridge. The chutney turned out to be a little sweet and sour and, thanks to lots of garlic and chilli, pungent and hot, too. All in all, exactly how a chutney should be. In fact, I like it so much that I polished off most of it when I had dosas for breakfast the next day.
Beetroot, peeled and grated – 1
Oil – 1 & ½ tbsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Garlic, chopped – 5-6 pods
Dried red chillies – 5-6
Tamarind pulp (without seed and pith) – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Soak the tamarind pulp in about 2 tbsp of hot water
Heat 1 tbsp oil on medium flame, and add cumin seeds. When they start to change colour and pop, add the urad dal and chana dal. Fry till they’re golden, then add the asafoetida, followed by garlic.
When the garlic is golden, add the dried red chillies. Once they start to puff up, add the grated beetroot and fry till it’s cooked. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to speed up the cooking process.
Once the beetroot is cooked, turn off the flame and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then, add the tamarind water to the beetroot mixture and grind it to a paste. Make it as smooth as you like, adding water as required.
Finally, add salt (as needed) and top off with a tempering of mustard seeds.
Serve with rice, rotis, dosas and idlis. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect this chutney would go well in an Indian-style grilled cheese sandwich. Use a sharp cheese, like cheddar or smoked gouda, which will contrast well with the sweet-sour taste of the chutney.
[The Back Burner is a blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines