Monday, 28 March 2011

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry

Many years ago, I remember watching an episode of Sophie Grigson’s series ‘Feast for a Fiver’.   In this episode she was in Kent, reputed to be the Garden of England and her hosts were an interracial couple. Kumar was from Sri Lanka and his wife, an English woman called Harriet.   Kumar cooks up a Spicy Sri Lankan meal which included La Daube Dizef  (a spicy egg dish), Cucumber Sambal and Beetroot Curry.  I vaguely recall thinking 'err how odd to have beetroot in curry'.  A few years later, I saw the cookbook of the same name in a second hand bookstore and picked it up for no other reason than it had a number of appealing recipes on a budget.

So whilst flicking through the cookbook this weekend, I was reacquainted with Mr Kumars Beetroot Curry and having exhausted all the other beetroot recipes, including Beetroot koftas, beetroot pakoras and Chocolate and beetroot waffles, this is what I chose to make.

If you like beetroot you will like this 'Beetroot curry'; and if not, well this recipe won’t convert you, but you’ll find it an interesting change from the pickled variety.
Sir Lankan cuisine is so similar to South Asian cuisine in its spices, but differs in its use of coconut milk which is only used in some parts of India, namely Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  As soon as the coconut milk is added to the cooked beetroot it is instantly transformed from a deep velvet red to a fluffy marshmallow pink.  The coconut milk compliments the earthy sweet flavour of the beetroot making this an interesting culinary experience especially for those unsure what to expect. Whats also lovely about this recipe, is that the beetroot retains its crunch.

I have had to adapt the recipe a little, as I don’t have Pandanus leaf or curry leaves in my home, so I substituted these with dried fenugreek leaves also known as methi. I thought it would be fine as the recipe included fenugreek seeds.
UPDATED: December 2011 - Torwen made his variation of this recipe, please check it out here.
Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry
Serves 4
400g beetroot
2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A pinch of fenugreek seeds
¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 red chillies, sliced
Salt to taste
400g raw beetroot
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
400ml coconut milk
Peel the beetroot and slice them and slice them into strips of about ½ inch wide. In a wide pan, fry the onions in oil for about 5 minutes, then add in the spices, green chillies and salt. When mustard seeds start to jump, add the beetroot and dried fenugreek and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until the beetroot begins to feel tender.
Stir in the coconut milk and simmer gently for 5 minutes or so.
Serve with plain Basmati rice. Adapted from Sophie Grigsons Feasts for a Fiver.


  1. Oooh, I always love your beetroot recipes!
    I'm unfamiliar with Sri Lankan cuisine, so am always interested in trying new things. I have curry leaves too, so will be making this for dinner tomorrow!
    Much love

  2. Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog - it was really kind of you. :)

    I love reading your blog and your wonderful recipes - whilst admittedly, I am not a vegetarian I do so love your recipes and have tried quite a few with great results! You've given me great inspiration and much more respect for the humble vegetable.

  3. Looks luscious and love the color!

  4. I've tried so hard to like beetroot, the colour is so beautiful. My husband would adore the curry though!

  5. I have to be frank. I totally admire this recipe ... but I don't think I'd be brave enough to try it!

  6. The color of this dish is wonderful!

  7. What a pretty color! I hope things are going well for you guys. Any luck with the job market?

  8. What a brilliant recipe! I love beetroot and I love curry! Must give that one a go!

  9. I love beetroot, and I'm willing to try them any which way, so I can't wait to try this out!

  10. I NEVER would have thought of using beetroot in a curry. It looks delicious and easy!!!!

  11. Hm, that sounds delicious. I love the beautiful color of the beets, and this curry preserves that gorgeousness and yet adds lots of flavor...

  12. Thanks littleblackfox.
    You know me always lookign for different ways to eat my vegetables!
    I'd love to know what you think of this dish if you make it, as it is rather unusual.
    Much love

    Thank you so much Ruth.
    Your comment means a lot to me. It truly is appreciated. And Hey you don't have to be a vegetarian to read my blog, just have a little space in your kitchen and table for vegetables.

    Thanks Now Serving.

  13. Nicisme,
    I do understnad where your coming from totally, although I eat beetroot now I can't hand on my heart say I love it. Its just okay.
    You should have a go at making this for your husband though :)

    Oh Thank you Duchess_declutter.
    Please be brace to brave enough to try it, if not for you perhaps a family member :)

    Thank you yummychunklet.
    Yes the colour is something.

    Thanks Carissa.
    Nothings happening at the moment, I'm resigned to the fact that it could be like this for the next few months or so. Thanks for asking though.

  14. Thank you Matron.
    Its always lovely to hear from you.

    Thank you Anne of offmotorway.
    I do hope you find the dish good, it sure is interesting.

    Thanks Daffodil.

    Thanks Indie.Tea.

  15. The color alone is gorgeous but I would love the flavor of this dish as well. Lovely!

  16. I've never tried beetroot curry before, very interesting!x

  17. Making this now - smells amazing!

  18. Zoe - you must try it oneday.

    Thanks Funkbunny.
    I so hope you enjoy it. If you post it on your blog, let me know and I will link it from here.

  19. I just made it for the Flavors-of-Sri-Lanka Event! I really really liked it, but then I love beetroots :)
    I'm very glad you had this compulsive beetroot cooking time LOL

  20. Thank you Torwen.

    I've had a quick lookie at it and it looks good.
    I've updated this entry, so fellow bloggers can see your version too. I'll be by later today for a catch up - got things to do at the moment.

    PS on another note, I was going to take part in one of the other events you mentioned, but they make it mandatory to use the logo. I think on our blogs we are making enough links to these host blogs, that additional logos are just too much sometimes/invasive in fact. So I decided not to enter.

  21. I see, you have a point here. If you're linking to more than one event it would soon become a mess of logos :))
    But maybe one day you are doing paratha just for the fun of it :) *waiting patiently*

  22. thanks Torwen, thats exactly it a mess of logos.
    I do want to make paratha and keep thinking about it every weekend. I think I am hesitant because I don't think I have any chappati/roti flour in my cupboards, and i don't want to buy more food as we will be moving. I will take a gander later today to see - otherwise my friend, you may just have to 'patiently wait' until January.

  23. Am totally unfamiliar with srilankan cuisine but I love beetroot & really did want to find more ways to make curry with it. Definitely trying this one on the weekend.

    1. So good to hear from you Grapefrui. I really enjoyed this dish when I made it, and I know other bloggers have made it since and enjoyed it too. Do hope you like, pls let me know.

  24. Using white beets like Blancoma might get one past the pink look of the curry which I must admit ;-) kind of puts me off. But I love beets so will keep this in mind for next year's crop. Always an inspiration Shaheen. Would never have thought of curried beets!

    1. I've not seen white beetroot Brenda, but I see you point the pink would put off some people. I have seen and grown yellow beetroot, so that would work too.


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