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Beetroot rasam

Beets are usually a hit-or-miss vegetable. Folks either love them or will not touch them. I learned to love beets after roasting them in the oven. They turn earthier and the sugars caramelize slightly giving them a lovely flavour. I also love them raw in salads and with dips, they have a huge crunch and are delicious.

This is a lovely recipe that brings out the best of both worlds, the spicy rasam and the earthy beet. The spice mix pops with chilli and other flavours that are tempered by the sour tamarind and sweet roasted beets. Together they are lovely, rich and delicious. The perfect palate opener as a welcome drink or as an aperitif.

This is a thin volume of amazing recipes by a master chef. This volume rounded up my collection of Chandra Padmanabhan's cookbooks. It is filled with amazing recipes from South India, like this one. Each recipe is absolutely delicious, stays true to the core of the native cuisine and is always a crowd-pleaser. I will highly recommend this, and all her other, cookbooks as a must-have for South Indian cuisine.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


1 large beetroot

5 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

5-6 cups water

1-1 1/2 tablespoon tamarind concentrate

1-1 1/2 tablespoons jaggery

Salt, to taste

Cilantro, minced, to garnish

For the spice paste:

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

2-3 dried red chillies, or to taste

1 tablespoon grated fresh coconut

1 tablespoon ghee or oil

For tempering:

2 tablespoons ghee

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 dried red chilli

10-12 curry leaves

Peel and chunk the beetroot. Add to a pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes till the beets are very tender and soft. Drain, keeping the remaining cooking liquids, cool and blend into a purèe with the cooking liquids.

Alternatively, I like to roast the beets. Heat the oven to 375° F. Wrap the beets in foil and bake for 60-75 minutes till very soft. Remove, cool and purèe the beets in 1/2 cup water till smooth.

To make the spice paste, dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin, fenugreek seeds, and dried red chillies till aromatic and lightly coloured. Cool and grind to a very fine powder in a spice mill.

Heat the ghee in a pot, add the spice powder, and grated coconut, and sautè for 1 minute on very low heat until aromatic. Add the water, tamarind, jaggery, salt and mashed beets and boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and spice and adjust as needed. The rasam should have an earthy flavour with a light sweetness and wholesome spice to it.

Heat the remaining ghee on low heat in a small pot and add the mustard seeds. They will pop in 10 seconds, add the cumin, red chilli and curry leaves. Fry for 20 seconds and pour over the rasam.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

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