Sometimes you have a special recipe bookmarked for weeks and you have to specifically plan your menu and shopping list to finally be able to make the recipe of your affections. Other times, well, you're faced with a glut of *insert vegetable of your choice here* and your mission is to find a recipe which will assist you in whittling down your stash of said vegetable.
Point in case - this beetroot curry. I received beetroot two weeks in a row in my veggiebox and, though I'm a big beetroot lover, I'd gradually run out of ideas on how to use them all. I've roasted them, fried them up for veggieburgers, turned all Middle-Eastern on their asses, used thin slices as pizza topping and even made Red Velvet-esque cupcakes with 'em. But my options had run out. Aside from the regular old standby of vinegar-y beetroot salad, what else was left?
Luckily I stumbled across my copy of Feasts for a Fiver, with the focus not only on eating seasonally, but eating on a budget and healthily to boot. With my love of spices, it's probably no surprise that this Sri Lankan curry caught my eye. Being unfamiliar with the cuisine, it was interesting to note that it shares quite a few similarities with South Indian curries. However, Sri Lankan food is distinguished by quite extensive use of coconut milk, giving it a very unique flavour. The cuisine has a reputation for being extremely spicy and if you're not careful you'll be breathing fire like a dragon after a mouthful of one of their curries. Luckily for you, I toned the heat down in this one, so no fire extinguisher necessary.
This curry is simple to make and sounds deceptively simple in terms of flavours, however the spices used work together perfectly to accentuate the sweetness of both the beetroot and the sweet potato. The coconut milk brings everything together and provides just the right touch of creaminess, while the optional coconut and nuts sprinkled on top adds some crunch. All in all, a very satisfying use of my beetroot stash and a great first meeting with the flavours of Sri Lanka.
Kumar's Beetroot Curry
Adapted from Sophie Grigson's Feast for a Fiver
Serves 4 - 6
Serve this with steamed rice, cooked wheatkernels or some flatbreads. Would also make a great side-dish for an Asian inspired meal. The original recipe calls for curry leaves and pandanus leaves, but, to be honest, it tasted pretty spectacular even without it, so I've given you the recipe as I've made it. I also took the liberty of adding sweet potato to give it a bit more body.
2 tbps sunflower oil
2 onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
3 green chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 - 4 dried kaffir lime leaves
500g beetroot, peeled and cut into strips
2 sweet potatoes, peeled cut into strips
1 cup coconut milk
salt, to taste
slivers of dried coconut (optional)
1. Heat sunflower oil in a large saucepan or wok, then add onions and fry over high heat for about three minutes.
2. Add cumin, mustard seeds, chillies and lime leaves to the onions and fry for a few seconds until you hear the mustard seeds pop.
3. Lower heat to medium, then add beetroot and sweet potatoes. Stir to combine and allow to cook for five minutes before adding the coconut milk.
4. Cover, lower heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir and cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Add salt to taste and serve warm, sprinkled with coconut and peanuts.
Leave out the sweet potato for a lighter curry, or alternatively replace the beetroot with carrots for an equally lovely dish.