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Recipes: Beetroot paints the town red

The much-ignored beetroot is finally painting the town red. Sonal Ved finds out how chefs are using this root vegetable to create fascinating dishes in the city

For many, the only memory of eating beetroot is the one where we reluctantly swallowed canteen-style potato cutlets tainted with cubes of red beetroot. Beet, the bully (since it taints everything it comes in contact with), can be a super veggie if it falls in the right hands. Dig deep into classic Indian cookbooks and one will find how this underground vegetable was skillfully used by master chefs to create dishes such as Chukandar Gosht, Chukandar Ka Raita, Beetroot Halwa all hailing from different parts of the country. But due to tedious cooking processes, the vegetable was largely forgotten, until recently.

Beetroot Keftedes an appetiser designed on the lines of Lebanese falafel, with hints of beetroot and feta cheese. Beet is a versatile ingredient which has been an underdog for a while now. But chefs have finally realised how it can swing the way they want. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Beetroot Keftedes — an appetiser designed on the lines of Lebanese falafel, with hints of beetroot and feta cheese. Beet is a versatile ingredient which has been an underdog for a while now. But chefs have finally realised how it can swing the way they want. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Of late, with foreign chefs and influence of foreign flavours on restaurant menus, the root veggie has come back in vogue. Nariman Point-based Sassy Spoon serves Beetroot Keftedes — an appetiser designed on the lines of Lebanese falafel, with hints of beetroot and feta cheese. Chef Rachel Goenka from the restaurant says, “Beet is a versatile ingredient which has been an underdog for a while now. But chefs have finally realised how it can swing the way they want. For instance, some pickle it, while others sweeten, glaze or bake it.”

Dharmesh Karmokar, director at Nom Nom concurs with Goenka. He adds, “In addition to its user-friendliness, beetroot is healthy too. Unlike other underground veggies, beet is low in fat, high in minerals and packed with vitamins.” At his Bandra and Versova-based eatery, cubes of beet are submerged in water. The liquid is then used to make dim sum skin, a technique which gives it a lovely scarlet hue. “Beet not only colours the water, it also passes on its vitamins via water which adds to the health appeal of our dim sums,” informs Karmokar.

Beetroot Tikki, Punjabi Grill
Punjab Grill’s Tender Pine Nut and Curd-stuffed Chukander Kebabs

Similar beet-hinted dishes can be found at Fort’s Town House Café that serves Porcini Risotto with Red Beet Fondue, Punjab Grill’s Tender Pine Nut and Curd-stuffed Chukander Kebabs and Fenix’s popular
Beetroot Carpaccio. And it’s not just savouries. Desserts, too, can be made using beetroot. “All underground vegetables have natural sugars which lend themselves beautifully to desserts. Plus desserts are all about colour which beet has in abundance,” says Chef Sandeep Pande from Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel. Their bakery regularly doles out passion fruit and beetroot tart and macaroons, while at banquet high-teas you can find beet cheesecake and tea cake.

Beetroot carpaccio

Beetroot Carpaccio by Chef Rajeev Arora, Levo Restaurant and Lounge. Pic/Amit Jadhav
Beetroot Carpaccio by Chef Rajeev Arora, Levo Restaurant and Lounge. Pic/Amit Jadhav

Ingredients for orange reduction
2 cups fresh orange juice
3 tbsp ginger, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sugar ingredients for the salad
2 cups water
½ cup red vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red beet
4 scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of sea salt

Method
In a pan, heat the orange juice and add ginger and sugar to it. Cook over high heat and bring it to a boil ×Reduce the flame and cook further for 15-20 minutes or until it thickens
Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and chill
For the salad, take a pot, add water, vinegar and salt to taste. Bring it to a boil on medium heat.
Reduce the heat and add beet, cover and cook it for 30-40 minutes
Strain and peel the vegetable. Now, slice it into thin circles
In a pan, heat oil and sear the scallops for two minutes on each side. Once brown, remove from fire and keep aside
Place beet slices at the bottom of a plate. Drizzle vinegar and olive oil on top. Sprinkle sea salt and place the warm scallops on it. Top it with orange glaze and serve immediately

Beetroot and Ginger Brownie

Beetroot and Ginger Brownies by Chef Rakesh Mirchandani from Canvas Lounge. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Beetroot and Ginger Brownies by Chef Rakesh Mirchandani from Canvas Lounge. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Ingredients
250 g dark chocolate
400 g beetroot, roasted
20 g ginger
3 eggs
200 g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
200 g unsalted butter
25 g cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50 g icing sugar

Method
Puree beetroot and keep aside
In a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together and allow it to cool slightly
In a bowl, whisk eggs and sugar and add the chocolate mixture to it
In another bowl, sieve flour and add cocoa powder, grated ginger, baking powder, salt and beetroot puree
Mix with the egg mixture and tip it into a greased brownie tin
Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degree Celsius and dust with icing sugar and serve warm

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