The beetroot, that most humble of root vegetables, was previously best known for bleeding onto the rest of your salad, with a blood-curling hue.
It got a bit of a PR boost when Red Velvet Cakes were in vogue last decade, their dye-like quality being put to good use in colouring the cake batter, but that trend has also since faded (unlike beetroot stains you may or may not have left on your mother’s best table linen).
However, in 2020, the year where anything can happen, beetroot is seeing a, perhaps overdue, surge in popularity in restaurant kitchens across the Capital, in a cross-section of cuisines.
Chef Mahabir Singh from Made in Punjab says, “Beetroot’s versatility has made it the vegetable of the year, giving the chefs a blank canvas to paint on. And so recently it has acquired an upscale image, gaining attention that was previously restricted to carrots and potatoes.
Whether steamed, raw, pickled, roasted, mashed, gravied, sautéed, stuffed, creamed, or souped — this root vegetable has solidified its place in restaurant kitchens.”
Continuing on this theme of the vegetable being ignored, Saurabh Luthra, Co-Founder Romeo Lane says, “The ruby red vegetable was often given a cold shoulder in the kitchen, making it the most underrated ingredient, and even though it is readily available, many thought twice before picking it.
Perhaps, many don’t know how to get out the taste and its sheer versatility; but from hummus to spreads, ravioli, dim sum sheet dough, soups, salads to mock meat and even desserts, beetroot can lay a great foundation to any dish.”
Chef Anas Qureshi of Molecule in Green Park agrees, saying, “Beetroot may not be your first choice because of its unusual taste but it is delicious when paired with bright, sweet, and fresh flavours. At Molecule, we are doing two dishes with Beetroot which are Beetroot Prawn Tempura Sushi and Beetroot Avocado Barley Salad.
In the Sushi, the rice is cooked in beetroot juice, which gives it an amazing pink colour, and adds a little sweet flavour, which complements the prawn greatly. In beetroot avocado barley salad, the dressing is made using roasted beetroot puree, vinegar, olive oil and orange marmalade, with beetroot puree giving the salad a bright colour and earthy taste.”
Speaking of ways to bring out their flavour, Chef Amit Singh of Ophelia says, “I think of beets as needing something nutty to complement their taste. You can bring two autumnal flavours together and add a hit of sweet acidity by pairing beets with crisp apples, while Dijon Mustard, with its sharp, tangy edge makes a delightful foil to beets.
This vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals, is low in calories and fat, and contains inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which have a number of health benefits.” He also notes it has become a hot favourite for today’s conscientious eater. Kanishk Tuteja of Nukkad Cafe and Bar, agrees saying, “We use beetroot to make a bright coloured Golgappa. It has obvious health benefits, and we, as responsible chefs and restaurateurs, have to surprise them in forms of garnishes and colours, while also keeping their health in mind, especially these days.”
Among its many uses, the beetroot is providing options influenced by hardcore meaty meals.
“The Beetroot Galouti Kulcha at our Khan Market establishment is inspired by the lamb galouti. It is a healthy and versatile option for vegetarians and also for those wanting a lighter option to lamb. Charcoal smoked, the main flavours of the dish are ginger, green chilli, cardamom powder which balance out the sweetness of the beetroot,” shares Agnibh Mudi, Brand Chef, Foxtrot.
“At Made in Punjab, I created Beetroot Ki Tikki that is crusty outside with a tender core, which has become one of our top-selling vegetarian starters. Our idea was to give vegetarians diners options beyond potato and paneer. Our Imli ki Chutney complements the tikki, making it a star dish after a slow initial response,” concludes chef Mahabir.