Beetroots don’t just look and taste yummy but have some fantastic medicinal properties. Recent health claims suggest beetroot can help lower blood pressure. They are rich in iron and folate therefore help with reduction of birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Furthermore they are packed with immune boosting Vitamin C, so tick tick tick all around!
Beets are regularly used in salads in the UK however, growing up in Chennai, I remember various dishes with beetroots. The main dish that I remember Amma cooking regularly was Beetroot Kootu. Kootu is the name for a south Indian stew that is usually made with a variety of vegetables, lentils and semi solid gravy.
There are variations of this dish depending on the region you are from. Traditionally, the mixture for kootu is fried in a tsp of oil, ground fresh and used immediately. In this day and age, not everyone has the time to freshly grind spices each time. So I decided to make a batch of “kootu powder” much like any other spice mixture (garam masala for example) and store it in an air tight container. Whenever I want kootu, I add the vegetables, the lentils and a bit of the kootu powder and wallah, stewy yumminess ready in a jiffy.
So what’ll you need:
3 – 4 beetroots, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup lentils (I’ve used moong dal, you can also use toor dal if preferred)
1 heaped teaspoon of kootu powder
Salt to taste
A little oil (1 teaspoon)
½ tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp urad dal
¼ tsp channa dal
4 or 5 Curry leaves
1 dry red chilli
For the kootu Powder (dry roast and blend all these ingredients into a coarse powder)
8 – 10 Dried red Chillies
1 tbsp Toor Dal
1 tbsp Bengal Gram Dal
1 tsp Peppercorns
1 tbsp Urad dal
2 ½ tbsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsps Cumin seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 pinch Asafoetida
A small bunch of dried curry leaves
Pressure cooker Method:
Add the moong dal, beetroot, kootu powder and salt to the pressure cooker. Add two – three cups of water*.
Cover and pressure cook for four whistles, let the pressure release naturally.
In a small frying pan, add a little oil and temper the mustard seeds, once popped, add the urad and channa dal and fry until they turn a very light brown, be sure to avoid burning, now add the red chilli and curry leaves and remove from heat.
Add this to the kootu and stir well. Serve with boiled rice.
*The veggies should be submerged in the water – it is good to add too much water to the pressure cooker than to not add enough so always go with a bit extra)
Instant Pot Method:
Sauté mode, add a little oil and temper the mustard seeds, once popped, add the urad and channa dal and fry until they turn a very light brown, be sure to avoid burning, now add the red chilli and curry leaves and press cancel. (You can choose to temper separately in a frying pan and add at the end too.)
Add beetroot, moong dal, kootu powder and salt to the inner pot. Add two and a half cups of water. Put the lid on and set to sealing, manual 4 minutes high pressure, NPR.
Serve with boiled rice (you can also do rice in the same inner pot using PiP method, add one cup rice and 1.5 cup water to another small pan and use the trivet to put it over the beetroot kootu!)