Tried and tasted: How to experiment with beetroot in innovative ways

In this week’s column, let’s take a look at beetroots, which are feted as a superfood and can be cooked in an intriguing variety of ways.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 01, 2018 09:54 IST
Rahul Verma
Rahul Verma
Hindustan Times
Tried and tasted,Rahul Verma,Food
Beetroot is feted the world over as a superfood. (HT photo )

When I was a kid, I stayed away from beetroots. I thought they looked good but couldn’t come to terms with the sweet and mildly astringent taste. My mother, though, believed in the goodness of beet, and I often heard about its many benefits (which, of course, hardly ever appealed to the scruffy teenager who was forever in search of biryani and korma).

Now that I am older and wiser (and not as scruffy), I know what she meant. Beetroot is full of the good stuff, no doubt, but you can also do wonders with it. Beetroot, of course, is now feted the world over as a superfood. It is a rich source of iron and other minerals, works as an antioxidant, and I am told it even reduces blood pressure. But what appeals to me is the fact that it is cooked in the most innovative of ways these days.

I had beetroot and goat cheese at a new restaurant called Amuse House in Ansal Plaza the other day, and was completely wowed by its sublime taste. I had a long chat with the talented chef, Arvind Bharti, who told me that he had presented the root veggie in four different ways in the dish.

It consisted of sliced beetroot, beetroot jam, poached beetroot and beetroot crisps. The jam went into two discs of goat cheese, which was served with beet poached in red wine, crispy beet chips and freshly cut slices. It came with a caramelised burnt orange, which you squeezed over the goat cheese and ate. “I have balanced three flavours in this dish — sweet, sour and salty,” chef Bharti said.

The recipe for the dish follows, but I was intrigued by the beetroot crisps. For that, he said, you need to make a paste of a beetroot and cook it with some wine reduction. Add food starch to it and strain it to get a smooth paste. Spread this on a sil pad (a thermal pad used for cooking) and cook it in a food dehydrator at 55 degrees C for hours. Once done, cut into chips.

Amuse House in Ansal Plaza offers beetroot in four different ways.

Because of its colour and piquant taste, I find that chefs like to use the root vegetable in multiple ways. Chef Ritu Dalmia prepares a cream of beetroot with berries and a beetroot and goat cheese risotto. Chef Prasad Metrani does a beetroot masala hummus by boiling beetroot with spices, chillies, garlic and onions. He then blends this with chickpea, tahini and lemon juice.

I have promised myself that I am going to try out all these recipes in the near future. And meanwhile, though not quite a Michael Jackson fan, I have been thinking of one of his hits (changing the meaning and spelling a bit). “So beet it, just beet it,” I have been humming away.

Because of its colour and piquant taste, chefs like to use the root vegetable in multiple ways.

Recipe: Grilled goat cheese, beetroot and burnt orange

Ingredients: 100g goat cheese, 4 whole medium-sized beetroots, 300ml red wine, 120g castor sugar, 1 bay leaf, Star anise, 10g honey, 1 orange wedge, 10ml lemon juice, salt and black pepper to taste, 10g arugula leaves, a few leaves of micro herbs, edible flower

Red wine-poached beetroot: Peel and clean a whole beetroot. In a hot pan, pour most of the red wine and add bay leaf, a star anise and some sugar. Add the juice of one beetroot and then the whole peeled beetroot. Reduce to 1/3rd. Once it is cooked, let it cool.

Beetroot jam: Grate a fresh beetroot. In a hot pan, cook the beet in half of the honey, 1 star anise and remaining red wine. Adjust the seasoning. When done, keep aside.

For goat cheese disc: In a mixing bowl, add cheese, salt, freshly ground black pepper and the remaining honey. Mix well. Strain the liquid out through a fine mesh. With the cheese, now form two discs. Put the jam between the two discs.

Caramelised orange: Dredge the orange wedge with the remaining castor sugar and caramelise it using a blowtorch or simply put it under a hot salamander.

Assembly: Place the cheese discs on a clean white plate and top-grill it using a blowtorch or a salamander. Cut one beetroot into thin slices. Carefully arrange them around the cheese, along with the poached beetroot. Arrange the arugula leaves and the dehydrated beetroot chips. Add some micro-herbs and edible flowers. Place the caramelised orange next to the cheese.

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First Published: Jul 01, 2018 09:53 IST