I was introduced to this dish in Gokarn, during my first six month trip to India in 2001. Shanker, a great friend who managed the beach side guest house cooked it for me one evening after the sunset.
Gokarn is a tiny holy town, south of Goa and auspicious to Hindus; a dip in the sea is good luck for one’s father and the sea washes away sins. It’s a town i fell in love with. I ended up staying for four months! I have since returned almost twenty times and whenever i do i eat Beetroot Curry.
The food in the photograph was cooked by Nela, Shankers wife, at their home in 2012.
Bunch fresh beetroot
2 fresh green chilies – Chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic
1 red onion
1 inch of ginger
1 green pepper – Sliced
1 half of fresh coconut or dedicated – Grated
Fresh coriander – Chopped
1 tomato – Chopped
1 tsp Salt
1 tbs sunflower oil
1 cup of water
2 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
Half tsp Asafoetida or Turmeric
2 tsp Garam Masala
Peel and grate beetroot and leave to one side. Grate ginger and garlic or grind into a paste. Chop onion, pepper, tomato, chilies and prepare coconut. Basically everything needs to be ready to go into the pan fast.
Heat oil on high heat and add black mustard seeds until they crackle. Add cumin , chili and onion and fry until soft. Add ginger/garlic and fry for one minute. Do not burn. Add asafoetida or turmeric and the sliced tomato and green pepper. Fry for three minutes. Ad salt.
Add beetroot, coconut and a little water. Cover and cook until beetroot is cooked. Around 10 minutes. keep stirring. Serve with fresh coriander and home made chapatti.
Eating hidden flesh,
Hurling until the blood rises to the skin.
Your mistake has cost you two days and two hundred pounds,
Its cost me twenty years without death.
Hidden amoncst beans and roots,
The screen commits a thousand sins.
Your mistake draws tears past the surface, and out,
My twenty years without death.
The joy of chopping garlic, the smallest of slimy Indian cloves, crush and peel. My very own cooker in my first kitchen in eight months. The joy of washing plates in real detergent, not sand or a plastic bag. The pleasure of washing the most beautiful tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, arranging them in my rented fridge, in my rented kitchen with a look of the 1950’s.
The joy of skimming froth from boiling red lentils, frying onions and egg plants in olive oil, cooking bringing happiness in my very own space.
A rented apartment on the beach in Goa, amongst the palms and the pigs. Just us and the pigs and the palms. Local vegetable stalls and independent village stores, having the choice of whom to support, food one tenth the price of food in England.
The joy of drinking a glass of red wine, vino from a vineyard i visited in Nasik, on the porch, eating a pasta dish as the sun sets. No restaurants, no waiters, no tips and no getting ill. No curry.
Sinking back into my love for cooking and being domestic. My choice of music on the stereo, in my own little house for the final fortnight. Wine, pasta and the beach five minutes away. A perfect transition for returning home.