One lesser known or rather lesser used vegetable is the beetroot. It comes to mind simply because there are lovely beetroots right now in season…rotund, bursting with colour of good health and blood purifying properties. So why not make use of it while keeping in mind that Indian food can be light and nutritious. Try eating the beetroot leaves and stalk (boiled or steamed) and accompany with other more flavourful vegetables like onions and garlic. Or chop finely and add to stir-fries. Try Beetroot Chaas for a flavourful beginning to a meal.
Beetroot’s main benefits are that it contains no fat, very few calories and is a great source of fibre. Beetroot has for many years been used as a treatment for cancer in Europe. Specific anti-carcinogens are bound to the red colouring matter which supposedly helps fight against cancer and beetroot also increases the uptake of oxygen by as much as 400 percent. Additional studies are taking place to add support to these claims. The green leafy part of the beetroot is also of nutritional value containing beta-carotene and other plant pigments. The latter function as antioxidants. This part of the beetroot also contains lots of folate, iron, potassium and some vitamin C. The roots and greens therefore are great for women in general and for those planning pregnancy.
Beetroot can be eaten raw. You just need to peel it and it’s ready to use. Beetroot can add a refreshing touch to a salad, a sandwich or as an accompaniment to other vegetables. Some prefer having it thinly sliced and mixed with onion rings with a dash of lemon juice and salt. This is a nice, crunchy, pink-hued salad! And then it comes to light Indian food a kachumber can be a filling start to a meal. Otherwise grate it finely to add to other vegetables. Or try adding a teaspoon or so of finely grated beetroot to a chilled glass of fresh orange juice. It’s refreshing! When you have the time and inclination do try Amla aur Beetroot ki Tikki.
Usually when you buy fresh beetroot it will still have the leaves and stalks attached. To cook the beetroot simply cut off the stalks but make sure you leave some of the stalk intact. By doing this it will help to stop the beetroot from losing it’s colour when you cook it and helps to hold in the nutrients. Beetroot can be steamed or cooked in boiling water. Cooking time can be from twenty to thirty minutes depending on the size of the beetroot. Test the beetroot with a skewer: when it’s soft, remove it from the heat and cool it under running water – this will make the skin easier to remove for serving.
You can serve cooked beetroot: as a hot vegetable accompaniment to a meal; or allow it to cool and slice it to put it in a sandwich with cucumber slices and tomato slices. You can also try this: cut beetroot into cubes and stir-fry it with some steamed cubed potatoes and pumpkin. Add a little garlic and some diced onions – this makes a delicious vegetable dish to serve with the rest of your meal. Or make a lovely rice dish like Beetroot and Mewa Pulao.