Earlier this month I took a weeklong trip to London to visit a friend and to try out some of the new restaurants that are popping up like mushrooms around the city. One of my favorites from the trip, Gunpowder, specializes in Indian cuisine from all over the country, often based on family recipes. This dining experience inspired me to share an Indian recipe on the column from a beautiful Andhra (South Indian) cookbook I came across earlier this year called Five Morsels of Love by author Archana Pidathala. Archana self-published her gorgeous book based on her grandmother’s 42-year-old cookbook. Her recipe for beet-yogurt relish can be enjoyed as a standalone snack or served as a side dish as part of a larger meal. —Kristina
Why Archana loves this recipe:
This is one of my favorite recipes from Five Morsels of Love. It is simple, delicious, refreshing and so evocative of summer. Summer to me as a child was spending two entire months with my grandmother and eating all the delicious food she cooked for me. My grandmother’s refrigerator was always stocked with bowls and bowls of the creamiest homemade yogurt. For a quick snack any time of the day she added just-cooked beets to a large bowl of whisked yogurt and poured spices sautéed in oil over the beet-yogurt relish. This relish also made an appearance at the dinner table as a side-dish to a spicy biryani or a rice-based main meal. It is almost impossible not to like this relish with its beautiful color, subtle sweet and tart undertones, and the occasional chili hit.
Beetroot Perugu Pachchaḍi
Makes about 3 cups
I find the process of making this beetroot relish as therapeutic as mixing watercolors on a palette. As a child, whenever ammama made this relish, I would watch fascinated as the beautiful color seeped out of the beets, turning the creamy white of the yogurt into a gorgeous shade of pink. The natural sweetness of the beetroot marries very well with the slight sourness of the yogurt, and is a pleasure to the palate as well as to the eye.
– 200g / 1 large beetroot, peeled and diced
– 500g / 2 cups thick, slightly sour yoghurt
– ½ teaspoon sugar
– salt to taste
– 1 green chili, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
– ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
– ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
– 4-5 fresh curry leaves
– 1-2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1. Cook the diced beetroot along with 180ml (¾ cup) water in a large pan for 10-15 minutes on medium heat, or until the beetroot cooks completely; drain. Alternatively, pressure-cook the diced beetroot to 4-5 whistles with 180ml (¾ cup) water. After the pressure settles, open the lid and drain the beetroot in a colander.
2. Whisk together the yogurt, sugar and salt in a bowl until smooth. Add the beetroot and green chili; mix well.
3. To make the tempering, heat the oil in a small, thick-bottomed pan over high heat until very hot. Add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Fry for 20-30 seconds and pour the tempering over the relish. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve chilled.
Archana Pidathala is the author of Five Morsels of Love, a cookbook based on her grandmother’s 1974 South Indian cookbook, Vanita Vanṭakālu. Archana quit her Product Management job in January 2015 (after spending over a decade in the high technology world) to dedicate all her time and energy to Five Morsels of Love. When she is not cooking, she is busy solving crossword puzzles, reading books on food history and planning her next travel adventure. She lives in Bangalore with her husband and almost five-year-old son. You can find Archana on Instagram here.