I started off incorporating beetroot into a cake, very similar to carrot cake, since its natural sweetness might help to disguise (for me) it's robust earthiness. The beetroot with toasty cake spices and hazelnuts was rather nice. Well I didn't put the whole lot on the compost anyway.
I moved on to Nigel Slater's herb meatballs, packed with grated beetroot and had a bit of a hallelujah moment when I realised that not only did they taste delicious but that I really didn't actively hate beetroot any more.
But those recipes were ones where beetroot was part of the chorus, rather than the star. But making a southern Indian-style rasam soup, combining beetroot with warming curry spices, tamarind and coconut, I have learned to like if not love the stuff.
Skill level: Easy
600g raw beetroot, trimmed and scrubbed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
rasam spice mix
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chilli
4 tsp urad dal (optional)
1 x onion, chopped
2 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp palm sugar
coconut milk or coconut cream
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 x dried red chilli, finely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
- Put the beetroot in a roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, 3 tablespoons of water and seasoning. Cover with foil and roast for about 1 hour until tender. Roughly chop when cool enough to handle.
- Pre-heat a small frying pan. Dry fry all the spices and urad dal until lightly toasted. Grind until a powder.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and gently cook for 10 minutes, before adding the garlic. Continue to cook for 2 minutes before adding 1 tablespoon of rasam spice mix. Cook for another minute before adding the chopped beetroot. Cook for another minute, making sure that the beetroot is well coated with spices.
- Add the water, tamarind paste and palm sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and set aside to cool slightly before blending. I also sieve my soup for extra smoothness.
- Return the soup to a clean pan and reheat. Check the seasoning and add a splash of coconut milk or a dollop of coconut cream and warm through.
- Temper the mustard and cumin seeds, and dried chilli by frying in hot oil for about 30 seconds. Drizzle over the soup and serve.