My absolutely favourite thing to do with beetroot
I prefer baking beetroots to boiling them, because the juice is all contained in the foil, so there is less chance of my accidentally decorating the kitchen in that rather worrying intruder-gone-berserk-with-electric-carving-knife style. Not that I actually possess an electric carving knife, you understand, having been vegetarian for over twenty years.
Anyway, this most excellent recipe comes from Leslie Forbes' Recipes From The Indian Spice Trail. Published in 1994 to accompany a long-forgotten BBC Radio 3 series of the same name, and purchased by me in a remainders book shop because it contains a recipe for beetroot. (Recipes for beetroot which don't involve slipping slices of it into a pool of malt vinegar are few and far between.)
You can - and I have - use those vacuum packs of baby beetroots for this, in which case you'll need a packet and a half. If you're using proper fresh beetroot, you'll need three. Unless you find one the size of a football, I suppose. But I don't think the quantity of beetroot is particularly crucial.
In addition to your beetroot, you will need:
3 tbls oil
2 onions, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, crushed
a 2" piece of ginger*, half grated and half cut into julienne
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 - 11/2 tsps cayenne pepper
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans**, throughly rinsed
3/4 tsp salt
Fry the onions until caramel brown, stirring often. Add the garlic and the grated ginger and cook until softened. Stir in the turmeric and cayenne and let sizzle for a few seconds. When they smell less raw, add tomatoes, kidney beans, beetroot and salt. Simmer, half-covered, for about 20 minutes for the flavours to blend, adding the ginger julienne for the last 10 minutes.
[If you're anything like me, your back will be hurting so much by this time, that you will need to leave the pan on the stove and sit down with a few painkillers. This is why I have good-quality, heavy-based pans: they can be left to their own devices on a low heat without the contents burning to the bottom.]
Once you are somewhat recovered, and almost ready to serve, heat 1 -2 tbls walnut oil (if you have it: if not, use something less exotic) in a small pan over a medium heat. Brown a handful of walnut pieces in the oil, then add 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp paprika. When the spices are brown and aromatic, tip everything in to the pan of beans and beetroot.
Serve with whichever carbohydrate you have the strength to prepare.
* Did you know you can freeze fresh ginger? This saves you from having to buy the smallest, knobbliest bit which is about 90% peel to 10% flesh. You can buy a big, plump hand, cut it into pieces of the size you will be using, and take one out of the freezer when you start cooking. You will be able to peel it within a matter of minutes. But don't leave it too long, or your attempts at peeling will reduce the whole thing to a sodden, grey mush.
If you live near one of those useful Middle Eastern grocery shops which sells bunches of coriander of the approximate dimensions of half a dozen red roses, you can chop the whole lot up, scoop it into a plastic bag, and freeze it. When a recipe calls for the addition of chopped coriander at the last moment, just grab a handful out of the freezer and sprinkle it into the pan. It will defrost immediately on contact with the hot contents of the pan. As will frozen, grated parmesan, as it happens.
** I refuse to feel guilty about buying kidney beans in cans, because kidney beans take forever to cook. However, if you do fancy spending several hours surrounded by steam and purple scum, I would recommend that you use your biggest pan and cook a whole packet of beans in one go. Once they're cool, you can decant the quantity for which you don't have an immediate need and freeze them. I've tried this, and it works really well.