Root vegetables with a soothing,earthy taste are one of my favorite. I m not talking potatoes here – everybody likes them without a doubt. I want to point towards taro, sweet potatoes, turnips, radishes & ofcourse – beets. The array of colors and textures inspire me to try out different ways to enjoy them.When beets are involved, I normally start dreaming of all kinds of pink hued curries, especially my dad’s version.It takes me back to all those special meals he cooked.
Thanks to some distant aunt who told me “You ll get rosy cheeks if you eat them”, it never took mom much of an effort to let me eat my share. Beets are a winter vegetable in India & growing up, I was crazy about raw beet-tomato juice first thing in the morning; the more red, the rosier the cheeks. Hmm.
I did not enjoy beets much in salads or slaws but since then, I have grown to enjoy them in many other ways. Being the only one at house who likes them, I have the freedom to mend & devise my own uncomplicated ways to cook them. After gulping down lots of juice glasses over the week (yup, at this age too, I dream of rosy cheeks (sigh)),I was left with a last batch of this pink bounty to be turned into these thin, crispy, pan-fried cutlets. These are not something I grew up eating, having said that, I m sure that half of my family would make faces at the sound of these. You need to appreciate beets to try results of my not- so-bad kitchen experiments.
There is always a feeling of accomplishment & satisfaction when I am able to come up with ways to prepare vegetables without cooking them much.I dont think I can describe it.It just needs to be felt.The beets were overly sweet, I did not roast them.Finding a way to balance out the sweetness was when spices jumped into the picture. Inspired by the ever so popular potato tikkis – tangy chaat masala , green chillies, ginger, garlic & cilantro – I found myself shaping these babies within few minutes. To start with, I was slightly nervous about the taste but after I tasted the mix, the excitement took over- for that first bite.
Tikki, a popular north indian snack is nothing but small patties or croquettes, deep or shallow fried. They are served with an assortment of chutneys, ketchup, yogurt or just as it is with hot steaming masala chai or coffee. .
These are vaguely sweetish, utterly moist to bite with semolina coating adding a texture.The intent was to keep the beet taste as unadulterated as possible. Serve these with green chutney as appetizers, over lettuce leaves to make a yummy salad or even slide them inside the buns to make a vegetarian burgers Overall, I think I will be making these a lot many times.
Makes 6-8 tikkis
- 2 cup finely grated beetroot
- 3/4 cup finely grated par boiled potatoes (substitute with leftover rice)
- 3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
- 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 1″ fresh ginger shoot, minced
- 2-3 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 3/4 tsp chaat masala (to taste, chaat masala is a tangy spice blend available in indian stores or online)
- 1/8 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/8 tsp asafoetida (hing)
- 1 tsp white sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp white poppy seeds
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp semolina
- 2 tbsp cornmeal
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
Press grated beetroot between your palms to squeeze out as much juice as you can.
Tip in the squeezed beetroot along with all ingredients except salt into a large bowl & mix lightly with a wooden spoon to combine everything.Dont overwork the mixture. Dont add the salt unless ready to cook.Refrigerate the mixture until then.
Mix the ingredients of the coating, tip into a shallow dish & set aside.
When ready to cook, heat up a heavy cast iron skillet/pan on medium. You don’t want the pan to be searing hot. While the pan heats up, combine the salt with the beetroot mix. Make small patties of the mix, about 2 inch diameter & 1/2 inch thick. Roll the patties in the semolina mix to cover both sides.
Lightly brush 1 tbsp oil on the heated pan. Place 2-3 patties on the pan and fry them on medium-low heat,adding 1 tsp oil at a time. Cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping gently with a spatula & flattening them with it slightly as they cook & turn brown.
Repeat till all patties are fried. Serve warm with green chutney, ketchup or salad greens.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!