And the Beet Goes On + Curried Golden Beets with Browned Butter Recipe
So tell me, what is your beet persuasion? Are you beet-devoted or beet-averse? I would describe myself as beet-ambivalent. I don’t go looking for them, nor do I run from them. But every so often I see a picture in a cookbook or online, and I’m suddenly smitten. The colors! Like jewels, they seem to glow from the inside. Surely there must be a way to tease out the latent glory of its earthy, root-y beetyness.
To that end, I’ve done a fair share of beet-sampling. I’ve actually always been somewhat partial to pickled beets, merely because that was the one and only way I’d ever had them until, oh, my 30s. Those mostly sweet and a little sour magenta cubes that came in a can were fun to eat and very nearly candy. These days I pickle my own and so can steer them out of toothache range, but they’re still fun and beautiful!
I’ve also found beets that are roasted and dressed in olive oil, salt and pepper to be quite tolerable. Sprinkle them with goat cheese and walnuts, though, and you’re really in for a treat! What else? What else could I do to the fat little orbs? They’re quite fashionable now in salads of all kinds, warm and cold. And of course they’re positively famous for starring in a certain soup. I’ve even seen them as a stand-in for chickpeas making for a weirdly neon bowl of hummus.
But this time, I had spices on the brain. I had a feeling they would play well with the warm spices, pungent chiles, and cooling yogurt of a good curry. And in fact, they got on famously. The slightly sweet earthiness of the beets melded with, but weren’t overpowered by, the masala. Any beet would work well here, but I like the golden ones for a curry—perhaps because their hue suggests they’ve already been curried! A word of warning, though…the delectable spice blend covers that golden glow entirely, leaving them rather muddy looking. But not to worry—a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and a drizzle of yogurt covers a multitude of flaws, and just so happens to be the perfect finish. And the beet goes on . . .
Curried Golden Beets with Browned Butter
These beets are prepared in two stages, making them a snap to fit into a busy schedule. Once roasted, they’ll hang out in your fridge happily for several days before their curry treatment. The combination of white peppercorns and Kashmiri red pepper make for a mild to medium heat level. Decrease one or both if you’re concerned that it might be too spicy.
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. white peppercorns
1 tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground Kashmiri pepper (or other mild ground red chili pepper)
2 T. butter
2 medium shallots (about 3 oz.), sliced thinly
1/8 tsp. salt
10 curry leaves (optional)
3 large or 5 small garlic cloves, grated
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 lb. golden beets, scrubbed
1 cup chicken stock
3 Tbs. chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Yogurt, for serving
Preheat oven to 375°. Wrap each beet in a piece of aluminum foil, and set directly on the oven rack, a few inches apart from one another. Bake till a knife inserted in the center meets little resistance, anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, depending on how large the beets are. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and any little “pits”. Cut each beet in half and then into wedges.
Grind coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and white peppercorns together in a spice grinder. Put in a small bowl, and add the garam masala, turmeric, ground red pepper. Set aside.
Heat the butter over medium heat in a 10 inch skillet or frying pan. Allow to cook till the butter begins to brown on the bottom of the pan…watch closely to avoid burning it! This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots and salt, and toss together. Cook till shallot is softened, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the curry leaves, if using, and the garlic and ginger. Cook and stir till fragrant, about 1 minute. Toss in the ground spices and the beets, and stir together till well-coated.
Pour the chicken stock over the beets, and stir well. Bring to a simmer, and cook till beets are very soft and sauce has thickened, 15 to 18 minutes. Check for seasoning. It may need a bit more salt, depending on how seasoned your stock was. Top with fresh coriander, and serve drizzled with yogurt.