This recipe transforms the humble beet from a hearty root vegetable into a light, fresh-tasting dish you can serve all year-round. You may use all red beets, but it makes for an attractive dish if you get a mixture of different colors. I love serving these beets with Everyday Yellow Dal (page 39), steamed rice, and Crispy Okra Raita (page 93) for a simple weeknight meal.
- 2 pounds gold and red beets (about 8 medium or 16 baby beets)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 small green serrano chiles, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
Scrub and rinse the beets well. Cover with water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, until tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Use a paring knife to test for doneness; if it slides into the thickest part of the beet fairly easily, they are done. Drain, cool, peel, and then chop the beets into ½-inch cubes if using medium-sized beets. Quarter the baby beets.
Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. When the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the chiles and give a quick stir. Quickly throw in the beets and salt. Toss, cover, and steam over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Remove to a serving dish and toss with the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve warm or cold.