You might think that beets are unknown in India, but in fact they are eaten all over the country. In this Keralan beet and coconut dish, big delicious flavors are created very simply. For that reason, I keep coming back to this recipe time and time again. It is often served as a side dish with other meat or vegetable curries. I like to eat it with dal, or cucumber and mint raita and tamarind and caramelized red onion rice .
The recipe comes from an unassuming little restaurant in Kochi called Casa Linda, run by a beautiful woman with a smile so large and a heart so big that there is practically no space for anything else in the room.
NOTE: You will need a food processor or blender for this recipe.
Serves 4 as part of a main course
1¾ pounds raw beets
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
2/3 cup desiccated or fresh grated coconut
4 cloves of garlic
1½ Indian green chiles
1½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
Trim the beets, place in a pan of cold water on a medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook until tender and a knife slides easily through them. This could take from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your beets.
Meanwhile, make the coconut paste. Put half the mustard seeds, half the curry leaves, all the coconut, garlic, green chiles, ginger, cumin seeds, and half the yogurt in a food processor, and blend to a fine paste. Add the remaining yogurt and blend again, then place in a bowl and set aside.
Once the beets have boiled, drain and leave to cool, then slip the skins off with your fingers or the back of a knife (wear rubber gloves if you don’t fancy having pink hands for the rest of the day). Cut the beets in half and then into wedges, ½–¾ inch at the thick end.
In a large lidded frying pan, heat the oil and, once hot, add the remaining curry leaves and mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add the beets, stir-fry for a couple of minutes, then add the coconut yogurt paste and the salt. Stir to mix, pop the lid on the pan, and cook for 8 minutes, then take off the heat and serve.