A trip to any grocery store invariably ends up in me looking for fresh beets. And if it is usually packed with leaves, then the fresher the better naturally. The gorgeous color and crispness of the leaves is a natural draw for me. Actually I am a sucker when it comes to all kinds of fresh leafy greens (Make it most of the veggies ). Can never resist the siren’s call !!!
So there was this lushest pack of beets beckoning to me in the produce section of HT. Gorgeous bright green leaves with veins of deep red and big fat beets clustered to it. I just had to pick it up! Don’t judge me please, I can always rationalize it as how one can never have too many veggies. So in any case, these gorgeous beauties came home and I was itching to make something out of it. Usually the leaves can be sautéed and made with a bit of soaked dal to yield a side accompaniment. But I want something else.. I wanted to make this relish that my mom and grandma could practically whip out of any vegetable. The basic recipe remains the same but the varieties it yields with it as the base is amazing. This is great as a spread, a side dish or to simply use it up mixed with rice and veggies as well.
Beet leaves sautéed and fine ground with roasted urad dal, tamarind, red chilies, whole black pepper to yield a slightly spicy, a bit tangy and wonderful earthy relish/ spread/thogayal. Chockfull of nutrients in a bowl!
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 10 min Yields : 8 -10 servings
Shelf life : 1 week refrigerated.
Beet leaves – trim stem, chop roughly to yield 2 cups
Skinned, split Urad Dal : 1/2 cup
Wet tamarind : 1 inch piece
Whole black pepper : 1/4 Tbsp.
Red chilies ( mix mild to high heat) – 4-6 or lower according to spice level
Oil : 2 tsp.
Salt : 1 tsp + to taste
Water : 1/3 cup – add as required to grind
Optional : Seasoning ( but highly recommended)
Oil : 1 tsp.
Curry leaves : 4-6
Mustard seeds : 1 tsp.
Hing : a generous pinch
In a skillet add initially 1 tsp. of oil and on heating add chilies and whole black peppers,
Add washed,skinned, split urad dal and roast till it is a nice brown in color. Drain and set aside to cool.
In the same skillet , add another tsp. of oil and now add the thoroughly washed and cut beet leaves and sauté till it is tender. Say about 5 minutes. Add the piece of tamarind. Turn off the flame and scoop it side in another plate to cool.
On cooling , grind the dal and chili and pepper mix initially along with salt to a rough grind.
Add the leaves and tamarind and a couple of tablespoons of water and grind till you reach your desired consistency. Add more water if desired. A smoother relish will be easier to handle but will have lower shelf life if you add too much water.
Optional Seasoning but highly recommended:
Heat oil in skillet, add hing and when it sizzles add mustard seeds which will splutter in the heat and then add curry leaves.
Turn off the flame and pour it over the relish and mix it well.
This is a great way to temper the spices as well enhance the taste if the relish along with increasing the shelf life a bit.
Enjoy with hot steamed rice, phulkas , dal and even a slice of toast!
I often get into one of those “ I so need to clean the pantry “ moods .. especially when I have something major lined up. In this case , it was prepping for the 30 day salad event and with 2 family birthday part events lined up, including one with a herd of teenage boys in the house (shudder ) running amok fueled high on pizza and cake. If you think that’s bad, you see I have another one lined up in 48 hrs – this time it’s a bunch of rising first graders ! Try pizza, cupcake and juice this time .. Plus we do have a family and friends grilling event lined up as well. I love my life .. if I don’t have enough madness thrown at me, I am capable of self- inflicting it! And old habits die hard. You see , I would be one of these maniacs who believed that chasing the dust bunnies and labeling the containers, yields to peace of mind. After all, I would be the one majorly cleaning up my room before an exam !
In any case, I am digressing . So on one of these infamous treasure hunts through the pantry, I discover a stack of cans –3 organic Kirkland tomato paste and 3 cans of Hunt’s diced tomatoes to be precise. I toyed with making homemade pasta sauce vs a nice tomato relish in the tradition Indian style. And guess which won???
Prep time : 10 min Cook time 30-40 min
Organic Tomato Paste : 3 cans
Diced tomato in juice : 3 cans ( blended )
Flavorless oil : 3 tsp
Mustard seeds : 2 tsp
Asafoetida : A generous pinch
Curry Leaves : 12 – optional. Washed and dried thoroughly
Tamarind paste : 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds or Methi seeds : 1 tsp
Red chilli powder or Parika powder : 1-2 tsp
In a nonstick pan, dry roast 1 tsp pf fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds till they sputter and you notice a faint red color on the former. Let this cool down and pulverize it to get a smooth dry powder and set it aside.
In a nonstick wok or big sauce pan , heat the flavor less oil and add in the Hing and 1 tsp of mustard seeds.
Once the mustard seeds sputter add in the blended ( run the diced tomatoes in their juices in a blender to smoothen it ) tomatoes and stir.
Cover partially and let the mixture reduce to half its volume. In effect you are trying to get rid of the water content through heat reduction.
Now add in the paste of the tomatoes from three cans and stir it well along with the added teaspoon of tamarind paste.
You will see the mixture thickening considerably.
Let it thicken some more and then add in the salt, and chilli powder and stir well.
In about 10-15 minutes, you will see the mixture thickened to a soft jelly consistency. Take care not to work this on very high heat.
Now add in the pulverized mixture of fenugreek and mustard seeds – 1 tsp. Stir well and turn off the flame .
Let this cool down completely before storing it in a dry mason jar.
Work the mixture on medium high heat. The idea is to get rid of the water content. Working on very high heart will risk the mixture getting burnt.
Add in the fenugreek mustard seeds at the penultimate stage. You really do not want to add it in early on. It might result in bitterness been imparted .
If you choose to add in the curry leaves, it needs to be added in the stage before you add in the blended tomatoes.
Check the spice and salt levels before you add in the dry powder mix.
This is a great side and accompaniment for Idli’s, Dosa’s, Bread and more.