Growing up I only remember occasional traces of shredded beetroot in our salads, often overshadowed by many other ingredients, such that I could barely remember their taste. In my own kitchen, I often bought beetroot because 'I need to eat healthy stuff', but not until recently have I started appreciating it. My favorite juice these days is beetroot juice, that says something.
A decade ago, the mere thought of beetroot or any vegetable except what goes into the masala with my meat curry would totally appall me. Bastardization is what it is, I often claimed. When meat is cooked, it deserves all the attention. The joy of meat that falls of the bone coupled with spicy masala base, that was the only form of comfort.
My teenage tantrums of picky eating have found a way of haunting and revenging me in form of M. He won't eat just a beetroot sabji by itself, so I add mutton to it. He still picks out the beets and leaves them for me but enjoys the flavor and color that beetroot adds to the stew. While the beets add sweetness and complexity (and a shocking red color), tamarind water is added towards the end to add a little sourness and round the flavors. Please make this without the meat if you don't eat it or you don't have a man like M in your life. It is equally delicious!
Beetroot Mutton Curry - Chukhandar Gosht
1/2 kg mutton/lamb/beef/goat, medium size cubes, on the bone
400 g beetroots
2 cups red onion, sliced
1/2 cup tomatoes , sliced
1 cardamom pod
2 inch cinnamon stick
1 tejpatta/ Indian bay leaf*
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 cup tamarind water
3 +1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pressure cooker **
* My friend Manisha has a very good writeup on difference between bay leaf and tejpatta. Read it here
** If not using pressure cooker, use regular heavy bottom saucepan. Of course that will increase the cooking time and you require to stir every now and then.
Wash and peel the beetroots. Cut them into inch size cubes. Add a tbsp of oil in a frying pan and saute the beetroots until lightly browned. Keep aside.
Add remaining oil in pressure cooker (if using) and add the whole spices, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds and bay leaf. Once they splutter add the onions and let them cook till lightly browned.
Add the meat and brown the meat. Add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander powder.
Once the spices cook out, add the tomatoes. Cook till they completely dissolve into masala. Add garam masala.
Add the sauteed beetroots and two cups of water. Pressure cook till the meat is tender.
Garnish with green chilies, mint or coriander leaves. Serve with rice or roti.