Beetroot and Chard Bhaji A gem of a dish

It’s ‘ready steady cook’ time in our house, the allotment is producing food faster than we can pick and cook it. I love it, it’s what growing my own veggies is all about!

Sometimes I need a bit of extra inspiration to figure out what to cook with my home grown goodies. And Das Sreedharan is a true inspiration when it comes to cooking South Indian food – a favourite of mine; mixing traditional with experimental, but always creating fantastic tasty food.

I was flicking through my Indian cookbooks today looking to see what the difference between a North Indian Spinach Bhaji and a South Indian one. And I came across his recipe for beetroot and spinach bhaji. Not a combination that I would have immediately thought of, but as soon as I saw it, it made terrific sense. The earthy flavours of spinach and beetroot with a sprinkling of mustard seeds and curry leaves and a hit of chilli. Delicious!

I cook and eat with my eyes (in a figurative sense!), and when I was preparing the dish the colours were dazzling, like jewels – think of the deep greens of the spinach / chard as Emeralds, the reds and yellows of the beetroot as Amber and Rubies. A gem of a dish!

I like to pick beetroot young, before they get to humongous and outsized proportions. Sometimes I like to eat them just with a dash of olive oil and a grind of black pepper. Other times I slow roast them with some olive oil and wrapped in tin foil, then peel and slice them. And serve them on toasted or crusty bread with a slice of goats cheese and a slice of beetroot.

Anyway back to bhajis.

I had cooked the beetroot by steaming them for 10 to 15 minutes until they were soft but not mushy

I had chard instead of spinach to use, but I like being able to swap ingredients around to suit what I have grown and what is fresh. I used roughly 2 large handfuls, which when cooked, chopped and drained make a small bowlful. Also the white of the Swiss Chard stalks add a bit of a crunch to this dish. I’ve played around with the original recipe in terms of ingredients and cooking times. I always find that vegetables I grow take far less cooking than any I’ve bought in a shop.

Beetroot and Chard Bhaji

Ingredients ~

  • Approx. 200g of beetroot (6 small ones or 2 large ones)
  • Chard and Spinach – a good 2 handfuls
  • ½ an onion thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, opened up and partially sliced – but kept whole
  • 1 tsp of brown mustard seeds
  • 6 to 10 curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp of turmeric
  • Vegetable oil for frying (I add a tbls of water when cooking so as to not use too much oil)
  • Salt to taste
    • Optional –  1 tbls of coconut (desiccated or fresh)

Method ~

  • Cook, drain and chop the chard
  • Cook the beetroot – steam for 10- 15 minutes until soft. Peel and chop them into quarters or batons
  • Heat a tbls of vegetable oil in a frying pan
  • When hot add the mustard seeds, and when they start to pop add the curry leaves, garlic, chilli, and sliced onions
  • Fry gently until the onions are cooked and softened
  • Add the turmeric and stir
  • Add the chard and beetroot and mix well
  • Salt to taste
  • Cook for a few minutes until all the flavours are absorbed, you may need to add a tablespoon of water if the mixture starts to dry out too much, but it is meant to be a dry dish
  • Add the coconut if using

Serve with either a dal and some rice, or as I did for a lunch, stuffed into warmed pita breads with some plain yogurt on the side.

Gardening Notes ~

Beetroot are a mixture of Di Choogia, Burpees Golden, Detroit and Albino

Swiss Chard, I wonder what it would look like with Rainbow Chard.  Even more jewel like?


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