Growing up I hated beets, which is a winter vegetable in India. For that reason I hated winters too. Well, actually there were several reasons. Firstly, Kolkata winters are suffocating because the doors and windows are shut fast (we don’t have/need heaters in Kolkata) as soon as the winter sun begins to wane (around 5 p.m.), which meant that there was no outdoor playtime after school. The silence that pursued the setting sun, which, btw, is very uncharacteristic of Kolkata for the rest of the year, accompanied by the smell of beets and carrots subzi with lots of garam masala and peas in small bowls dripping with blood red sauce was just too depressing for me. I guess I had come to associate my winter blues with its most vulnerable target–beets.
Naturally, I had never made beets in the 7 years that I have lived in the US. But I recently learned two important things about beets when I ate them at restaurants: 1) I actually quite like beets and 2) beets are basically the best thing one can eat. Yeah, it took me 8 years and an episode of Office (I guess I have to thank Dwight Schrute for that) to realize that beets are okay. So I decided to give it another go, to see if my dislike for home cooked beets is just a childhood thing that I have outgrown or if those scars are permanent and unalterable, as often is with food.
Turns out I totally love beets. The dishes I made did not depress me at all. It may be because beets are summer vegetables in the US and they do not come with the sad reminders of Kolkata winters.
I, however, decided to keep things simple and not spend too much time making something that I could potentially hate. So I just grilled them (it’s okay to just cook them in the pressure cooker too, if you want to make it more energy efficeint). But we loved the vegetables so much, and there was so much of grilled veggies left, that I made 3 different dishes out of them. Three distinctly different tasting, delicious and healthy meals. These are great for week nights and office lunches.
Tip: Skip peeling the vegetables. Beetroot and carrot skins are actually delicisous, and you won’t even know they are there in the soup.
- 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 whole dry red chili
- 8-10 curry leaves
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Place ONLY beets on a baking tray (they take slightly longer than carrots and sweet potatoes to cook), sprinkle olive oil and salt.
- Bake beets for 10 minutes.
- Now add sweet potato and carrot chunks to the baking tray.
- You may need to drizzle some more olive oil and salt.
- Mix everything with a spatula and bake for an additional 20-25 mins.
- Meanwhile, heat canola/vegetable oil in a pan.
- Add mustard seeds, garlic, dry red chilies and curry leaves.
- Remove from heat when everything starts spluttering.
- Sprinkle this tempered oil over the grilled veggies when ready.
- Serve with rice, parantha, or dosa.