Beetroot Rasam

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Beetroot Rasam

When I first starting cooking Indian, shortly after my transition to a vegetarian diet, my focus was mainly on dishes common to the Northern region. As I became comfortable with the cooking techniques and ingredients commonly used, I started experimenting more, coming up with fusion style dishes. Lately I'm captivated by traditional south Indian cuisine, and Chandra Padmanabhan has certainly been an inspiration and helped expand my culinary horizons. Dakshinwas my first introduction to her recipes and so impressed was I with the results, I hunted down a copy of Southern Spice. My copy arrived a few weeks back and this cleansing beetroot rasam stood out right away.

Traditionally served as the second course of the meal after thick and spicy sambars, rasams are generally soupier and thinner, commonly made up of fresh spice powders, tamarind, tomatoes and lemon or lime juice.

I do often rely on store-bought ground spice powders with satisfying results, but taking the little extra time to roast some seeds and grind them into a paste or powder at home is well worth the effort. As is the little time involved to fry up the crunchy seed and chili tempering for this rasam. As Ms. Padmanabhan reminds us, "mastery over seasonings can make all the difference."

My version is a thicker rasam that I served for a one-course dinner with hot fresh cooked white basmati rice mixed with some of my tamarind chutney. On the side, the rich green leaves from the beets, dressed with a small minced shallot, juice from half a lemon, a few splashes of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.

Beet Greens

I might add this rasam would be an ideal appetizer too.

Beetroot RasamBeetroot Rasam
Recipe by
Adapted from Southern Spice
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on April 12, 2009

Colorful south Indian soup of sweet roasted beets simmered with fragrant and spicy seasonings

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  • 3 small beets (1 lb or 450 g), scrubbed
  • lime-size piece of tamarind pulp
  • 2 tablespoons jaggery or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Spice paste:
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 6 dried whole red chilies
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried grated unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 dried whole red chili, split in half
  • small handful of dried curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Wrap the beets in foil and roast in a 375° oven for 1 hour or until tender. Alternately, boil the beets in salted water for 30 to 45 minutes until tender. Let cool to room temperature then peel and mash with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the water into a bowl, squeezing as much liquid out of the pulp as you can. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind liquid aside.

  • Heat the oil for the spice paste in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida and dried chilies. Stir for 5 minutes until the seeds are fragrant. Add the coconut to the pan, stir once or twice, and then add a few tablespoons of water. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, and then grind to a paste in a mortar and pestle or in a small food processor or blender. Set aside.

  • Combine the tamarind liquid, jaggery or brown sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Add the mashed beets and spice paste. Simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if you want a thinner rasam.

  • For the tempering, heat the ghee, butter or oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried chili and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to pop, pour into the rasam. Stir and cover and let stand for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle.

  • Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro leaves.

Makes 4 servings
More beet goodness: Beet, Barley and Black Bean Soup Beetroot and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Olives Creamy Beet Borscht Orange and Beet Soup And for dessert, beetroot cake


Ricki said...

What a lovely dish, Lisa. The color is spectacular. And I'm sure the beet greens on the side were delicious.

eatme_delicious said...

I love beets! What gorgeous dishes. I hope I can become as confident/comfortable as you are with Indian cooking!

Suparna said...

Hi Lisa,
Beetroot rasam is new to me ...I only knew of salds and dry curries from beet. Thanks for the lovely n healthy recipe.
I made the red chilli vinegar paste n Black n yellow chickpeas in sweet n spicy sauce it was just awesome :) we loved it to the core. Thanks Lisa am glad I tried it.

Anonymous said...

Lisa,haven't tried rasam with beets yet..looks great and tempting..would love to try..

Johanna GGG said...

the colours are gorgeous and the idea of pairing beets and indian spices really appeals

Arundathi said...

that's really interesting. i've made different types of rasam but never beetroot. gonna make it for dinner tonight! thanks!

Priya Suresh said...

Rasam looks colourful, yet to try:)

A_and_N said...

This is definitely very innovative Lisa :) Looks brilliant :) And you've used ghee for tempering...thats truly authentic!

Astra Libris said...

Oooh, such a gorgeous dish!! I love the quote about mastery over spices, too... :-)

Rumela said...

I like this recipe. these beetroot rasam are sure to taste great and are extremely nutritious as well. I am going to make it for the holidays when my kids will be at home. I'll be sure that what they are eating is healthy. thank you for shearing your post.

Meena said...

this rasam is truly out-of-the-box!!! great pic as well...colors r just impressive!

Anonymous said...

I tried this today and simply delicious!!!

murt said...

Great looking dish - to be technical, I'd probably call it pulusu rather than rasam though. I'll give it a try.