Beetroot Gazpacho

As you may have inferred from my last few posts- it is getting uncomfortably warm in these parts. Just really, really still, dry heat; the kind that drains you and makes you want to jump into a pool any chance you get. Hence, I feel the need to consume lots of coconut water and lime juice and prepare meals which are light on the stomach and cold on the tongue.

Salads are great, and I do love them- but the heat called for something really, really  cold; and a chilled soup seemed like a better option. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to take the easy route and make a blender do a bulk of the work. 😀

I’ve never made a gazpacho before, even though I’ve watched it being made on television, listened to podcasts outlining the perfect gazpacho, and saved numerous recipes to my Evernote. I haven’t attempted any of those, so in some ways, this is my “gateway” gazpacho.

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I decided to make this because I didn’t have any bread for a regular gazpacho, but I had a pair of beets. I always have beets in my fridge. You’d think that the one constant ingredient in my fridge would be eggs or bread or limes or herbs, but in my case, it’s beets. I buy them each week, so there’s always a spare beet nestled somewhere in the crisper, patiently waiting it’s turn as the kale, spinach, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes make their way to our plates first.

When it comes to vegetables that are always stocked in my kitchen, the list looks something like this:

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets

Potatoes-onions-tomatoes are a must in any Indian kitchen. My son loves cucumbers and eats a plateful of sliced cucumbers everyday with salt and pepper, so there must always be a handful in the crisper. And beetroots are great because they stay well (they don’t seem to spoil as easily as other vegetables,) plus, they are so cheap year-round. And  they are so, so good for you! I can make them Kerala-style, as a thoran or pachadi; I can roast them whole, boil them and pour some brown butter over for a warm salad- beets are a very versatile vegetable. And great for juicing, too!

So, continuing with my no-cook theme, I zoned in on the beetroot gazpacho recipe from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals. Except there was some cooking involved- I parboiled the beetroot. My blender is a regular one, not a Vitamix, and I don’t own a food processor either, so I wasn’t sure how well raw beets would break down. Other than the boiling, all you do is blitz the stuff you see above in a food processor or blender and push it through a sieve. I swapped the sherry vinegar in the original recipe for balsamic- because that’s what I had. And since the soup is a deep purple anyway, the balsamic doesn’t discolour it, just adds a really nice depth of flavour.This soup is refreshing with a nice, bright flavour- no single ingredient overpowers, it all comes together to make a nice, mellow cool spoonful.

I finished mine with a touch more acid- some lemon- and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, because I got a phancy little box with assorted salts. And why not add some pink on top of purple?

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BEETROOT GAZPACHO (Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals)

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 g beetroot
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes
  • 100 g cucumber, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

METHOD

  • Peel the beetroot and plunge into boiling water. Cook for a few minutes until tender; a knife should be able to go through easily but not all the way through.
  • Allow the beetroot to cool, then roughly chop it.
  • Combine the beetroot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes and garlic in a food processor or blender and blitz for a few minutes until smooth. Add a little cold water if necessary to make it all come together. (I had to as my blender isn’t very powerful.)
  • Pour the puree through a sieve set atop a large bowl. Press down against the mixture with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid through.
  • Stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled, with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on top.

Beetroot Pachadi OR Beet & Yogurt Salad With Mustard Seeds

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I was reading the wonderful Shaheen Peerbhai’s blog and she had posted a link to this beautiful video of a beet and chocolate cake from Vimeo. And I was reminded of how much I love beetroot.

Beetroot has always been a staple in our diet- I’m not sure if it’s a Kerala thing or a family thing. But ever since I can remember, we’ve had beetroot 3 ways. Cubed or julienned beetroot stir-fried with coconut; and sliced beetroot sauteed in coconut oil with lots of black pepper. The third beetroot staple in our home was beetroot pachadi, a yogurt-beetroot salad tempered with mustard seeds.

Pachadis are common all across south India- they are vegetables tempered with yoghurt, coconut, ginger, chillies and curry leaves. The yogurt-based variety are mostly eaten in Kerala and Tamil Nadu as an accompaniment to rice and other stuff. Think of it as a tangier, spicier version of a tzatziki!

As with any other dish, you can improvise with pachadi. I didn’t add any grated coconut to mine, instead I used some finely chopped onions. Whatever you like.

There is no real rule to pachadi…you can make it runny or more dense, use home-made curd or store bought, use cucumber, tomatoes, beets, pineapples, any vegetable you like (though I’m yet to come across a pachadi made with potatoes…)

I like using beetroots because they bleed and mix with the yogurt and make such a pretty colour. It reminds me of my days as a kindergartner when I’d eat Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries just to watch the red cereal berries make the milk turn pink.(Please don’t read into this with any Freudian intentions, I was just a little girl who liked the colour pink.)

Anyway, this is my recipe for beetroot pachadi, with whatever I could lay my hands on. It’s tart, tangy and slightly sweet thanks to the beetroot!

BEETROOT PACHADI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium sized beetroot; grated
  • 1 small onion; chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • A few curry leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons set yogurt (or more if you desire)
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of chilli powder

METHOD

  • Heat the coconut oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them pop.
  • Next, add the chopped onions, grated beetroot and stir-fry. Add a few curry leaves so that their flavour is released into the oil. Add a pinch of chilli powder and salt to taste.
  • Sautee till the onions are soft.
  • Remove from heat, stir in the yogurt. Garnish with some curry leaves and you’re done.

I just love pink food!

Mustard Seed