LOVE YOUR HEART RED BEET CURRY
by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
Most curries are yellow, brown or green, but this is a uniquely bright red curry! The recipe is my modified version of a traditional South Indian curry, while using seasonal and local ingredients.
Red is the color for February. It symbolizes heart, love and friendship, so we give flowers and candies to our loved ones. But the American Heart Association has a different theme. February is AHA’s Heart Awareness Month to remind us that heart disease is one of the major causes of premature deaths in the USA. They point out that many factors contribute to heart health, such as family history of heart illnesses and diet. While genetic factors are out of our control, we can make food choices for our heart health. The AHA recommends including fresh vegetables in our daily menu, so let’s celebrate February by having healthy meals!
The beets, potatoes and carrots in this curry are packed with nutrients that help regulate blood flow, maintain an ideal blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol level. Coconut milk and coconut oil are also considered healthy cooking mediums.
1 small bunch of beets (or 3 small to medium size beets, equaling about 2-2½ cups chunks)
1 cup chopped beet leaves or spinach, stems removed
1 large or 2 small potatoes ( about 1 to 1½ cups when cubed)
1 carrot, cleaned and cut into rounds (approximately 1 cup)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 small red onion, chopped finely
Half of a red bell pepper, cut into small pieces after removing seeds
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
½ teaspoon ground cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne pepper (OR less for a milder curry)
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup beet broth reserved from boiling beet roots
1 cup coconut milk (canned or fresh)
Juice of half a lime or lemon
A few tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
First, peel the beets and potatoes and cut them into chunks. Boil 3-4 quarts of water in a large pot and cook the beets for 45 minutes. Then remove a cup of beet broth from the pot and set aside. (Later the broth will be mixed with coconut milk to make the sauce). Add potatoes to the pot and boil them with the beets for 15 minutes. Add the carrots and boil all the roots together for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid and set the boiled roots aside.
Next, heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, pepper, ginger and garlic until the onion starts to wilt. Then add the boiled roots and beet greens (or spinach) and stir fry them for a few minutes. Add the powdered spices and salt and stir fry for 5 minutes. Then, combine the beet broth with coconut milk and pour over the cooking vegetables. Cover the pot and simmer the curry on moderate heat for 15 minutes. Then check for doneness by pressing a piece of beet between your fingers: if it is soft, then the curry is done. Adjust spices and sprinkle on some of the lime juice.
To serve the curry, place a cup of rice in a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the curry in the middle and sprinkle the remaining lime/lemon juice all over. Garnish with cilantro leaves on top.
Recipe adopted from “Cooking Together: a Vegetarian Co-op Cookbook” Copyright © 2017 Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
Shanta writes recipes and articles on food and nutrition. Shanta was a co-worker/owner of Other Avenues for over three decades and she retired from the co-op two years ago. Shanta is the author of two cookbooks: “Cooking Together,” “Flavors of India” and a food co-op history book, “Other Avenues Are Possible: Legacy of the Peoples’ Food System of the San Francisco Bay Area”. Shanta’s books are available in San Francisco at Other Avenues Food Co-op, Rainbow Grocery Co-op, Green Apple Books, Folio Books, Omnivore Books, Book Passage and in Sausalito at Driver’s Market. You can order her books from googlebooks.com, greenapplebooks.com, instacart.com/rainbow-grocery.
Currently, Shanta is creating cooking demonstration videos from her backyard to share them with the public via YouTube.