Indian Fusion Cuisine in Portland and Tucson
Come on people, play with your beets – rejoice in those beet-stained hands! Dance around your house like the domestic goddess/bohemian child you always knew you were. Make jokes about vampires, homicidal tendencies, and Dwight Schrute bait, and pun up your kitchen with the beetiest of word play. Dance to beet of your own pun.
So this is a spin on my mother’s Indian beet paliya I ate as a kid. This dish is so satisfying. The colors are brilliant. Perfectly plump jasmine rice is coated in brilliant red spicy juices. Chewy bites of coconut and tender curry leaves add a beautiful contrast to the sweet heat of the red chilies. So fragrantly spicy, it’s a perfect balance between starchy, spicy, and sweet.
10 oz of fresh ¼ inch diced (fresh) beets (for my quick tutorial on dicing beets- click here)
2 tablespoons of your *fat of choice – (olive, vegetable, and coconut oil all work)
½ tsp mustard seeds
4-5 whole red chilies (crushed)
1 tsp urad dal
1 strand of curry leaves (10-12 leaves)
¼ tsp turmeric
Small dash (less than 1/8 tsp) asafoetida
1/3 cup of dry coconut powder
1 tsp of salt
1/3 cup water
Rice: 3 cups of jasmine rice (cooked with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt) Spread the rice out on a plate to cool.
In a large heavy bottomed skillet add two tablespoons of the oil on medium low heat. Add the mustard seeds, crushed whole red chilies, and urad dal to the pan. Toss the spices around in the pan and watch the oil.
*So brace yourself, I’m about to say something really lame*
~This is where the magic happens~
Don’t cringe, I know it sounds tacky, but there is some serious magic happening. What you’re doing right now is making a thadka, a beautiful infused oil seasoning mix that will be the flavor bus taking your beet buddies out on a ride to south Indian spice-town. Make sure to watch the pan carefully. Toss these spices around throughout to ensure they don’t burn.
Within a couple minutes you will start to see/hear the mustard seeds sputter. Some will pop right out of the pan. That’s the indication that they’ve given their all to the oil and you’re ready to move on. Quickly add the asafoetida, turmeric, and curry leaves to the pan (careful, the moisture in the curry leave will make the oil sputter back at you). Stir!
Immediately add the beets and salt to the pan. Coat the beets in the spice mixture and saute for a couple minutes on medium high heat. Add a ½ cup of water , cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat and toss in the dried unsweetened coconut.
Add cooled (preferably room temperature rice) into the beet mixture and combine thoroughly.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. For a deliciously cooling spin on the dish mix it together with some plain yoghurt for a savory pink beet slaw.