Lush red beetroot pachadi

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Aside from being a beautiful, vibrant shade of red, this beetroot dish from Kerala, south India, is so easy to make. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients – it’s full of flavour and so creamy and moreish that I could probably polish off the whole lot in one go.

A pachadi is a vegetable side dish cooked with coconut or yoghurt and topped with tempered spices (usually chilli, mustards seeds, curry leaves and ginger). However, there’s no reason why this can’t be a light, healthy veggie lunch in itself.

You can make all kinds of pachadi (carrot or pineapple, for example) but here the combination of the sweet beetroot with the yoghurt and spice just creates something quite special. Looks impressive as a side serving at a dinner party too.

Most south Indian cuisine is far removed from the heavier cream-based dishes of the north, using instead yoghurt (curd) and coconut milk in many dishes.  In fact, if you’re a vegetarian travelling round the southern Indian states – such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu (where my husband was raised) – you’re in for a real veggie feast.

Serve this dish with fluffy rice or a warm chapatti/flatbread.

Ingredients:

  • Three medium beetroot
  • One cup of yoghurt
  • Half tsp turmeric
  • Salt to taste

For the paste:

  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • Half tsp cumin seeds
  • Heaped tsp of grated ginger
  • Half a cup of desiccated coconut

For tempering (optional)

  • 2bsp of vegetable oil
  • Half tsp mustard seeds
  • Small handful of curry leaves

Method:

Peel the beetroot and either grate by hand (could get messy!) or grate in the food processor.

Next prepare the coconut paste by putting the chilis, mustard and cumin seeds, ginger and desiccated coconut in a spice or coffee grinder (if you have one) and blitz for 30 seconds until it becomes a paste. Alternatively you could use a pestle and mortar (adding a little water) and pound it into a coarser paste.

Put the grated beetroot in a pan with a splash of water, the turmeric and salt, cook for around 7 minutes and then add the coconut paste and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring all the while.

Leave to cool a little and then stir in the yoghurt and return to a gentle heat until the yoghurt is well absorbed.

An optional extra (maybe leave this out if you’re cutting calories) is to fry some mustard seeds and curry leaves in some oil until the seeds start to pop. Pour the hot oil over the pachadi and serve.

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