Has Browners gone completely insane? Beetroot curry sounds repulsive. He must have gone native. What’s next, pickled herring soufflé? A dill and walnut chocolate cake? Lingonberry scrambled eggs? But fear not. Beetroot curry is actually rather good. And fabulous to look at.
As you may have noticed, I’ve become rather attached to beetroot since moving to Sweden. It’s all part of my effort to eat more vegetables, to cut down on expensive meat and to become a bit healthier. And it turns out that beetroot are a blessing. They’re tasty, healthy, filling and hold their own against robust flavours. But would beetroot be able to cope with curry?
When Cowie and I were inIndia this time two years ago, we had a couple of cooking lessons from some of our hosts. I’ll never forget this chap at the Villa Rivercat in Goa patiently whipping up an incredible chicken curry with spices that were so expressive they were like Eddie Murphy after a dose of amphetamines. We both came back from India feeling incredibly healthy having eaten mainly vegetables and fish throughout our trip.
Inspired by thoughts of India I hatched a plan to create the reddest curry every seen and set off in search of spices. The Curry House, in the quaint district of Haga, has every spice known to mankind. And then some. They even sell bizarre things like black feathers, rhubarb root and lots of exotic medicines. It’s a bit like the market in Munnar, but less crazy.
Armed with fennel seeds, cumin, star anise, cardamom, dried red chillies, mustard seeds, turmeric and a massive bag of orange lentils I aromatically waddled back to my flat to do battle with the beetroot. Ingredients:
10 beetroot 10 small potatoes 1 bag of fresh spinach (or can be frozen) 1 can of coconut milk 6 tomatoes 2 onions 2 cloves of garlic Chicken/vegetable stock 2 thumbs of ginger 1 dessert spoon of cumin seeds 1 desert spoon of fennel seeds 1 dessert spoon of mustard seeds 1 desert spoon of coriander seeds 10 cardamom pods 5 star anise 2 desert spoons of garam masala 6 dried chillies Vegetable oil Coriander leaves Salt
Roast all the spices (apart from the garam masala and cardamom) until they are aromatic but not burnt. Then pound to a dust in a pestle and mortar.
Sauté the onion until soft then add the chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes. Then add the grated ginger and breath deeply. A few minutes later throw in all the spices including the garam masala. Allow to mingle and cook for whilst you heat your stock up.
Pour in the hot stock and then add the chopped and peeled beetroot along with the dried chillies and cardamom. You want the liquid to be covering the beetroot.
Allow this to bubble away for about an hour with the lid on – until the beetroot begin to become tender. Then add the halved potatoes and take the lid off so that the liquid reduces. Once the potatoes are becoming tender add the can of coconut milk and 6 finely chopped tomatoes.
Taste for spice levels and seasoning and adjust accordingly with some chopped fresh chillies. At the last minute, stir through some spinach. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.
I had it straight up with no rice, lentils or bread. But I think it would be best served with a chapatti or steaming hot naan. Whilst it might be an assault on the eyeballs it’s a delight to eat.
I made a large vat of it and lived off it for most of the week. You can add some pork or chicken when you are craving a bit of meat. Further reading:
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: