Thursday, December 8, 2016

Addictive Beetroot Kebabs

A couple of months ago, I acquired a new cookbook by Meera Sodha called Fresh India. This is a fabulous book and I have it almost constantly open on my cookbook stand. The recipe I turn to most frequently is one that uses that under appreciated vegetable--beetroot. This recipe is so good, even people who don't like beets (like my brother-in-law) love them.

Although I live alone, I make a whole batch of these and keep some of the patties in the fridge or freezer and fry them up when desired. They can be served as an appetizer or snack, or you can make them the focal point of an Indian meal, with some rice, dal, and raita on the side.

For me, this is almost fast food because I can buy cooked beets in the local supermarkets and greengrocers, and paneer cheese in a little Indian/Suriname store near me. But cooking beets is not hard, and you can make your own paneer too (see Saag Paneer). But I have also made it with drained cottage cheese. I think you could make it with soft feta cheese too (although I would reduce the salt then).

These kebabs are quite soft and delicate. They need to be gently handled, but are easy to make.

2018-01-01 Update: I no longer add an egg to the mixture. It just makes it too wet and the chickpea flour is enough to bind it. I have also used this mixture in samosas made with filo pastry.

Indian Beet Kebabs

Adapted from Meera Sodha
Yield: 18 small patties

500 g cooked beets 
225 g paneer cheese (or cottage cheese or feta)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cm fresh ginger, peeled and minced fine or grated
3 cloves garlic, minced or puréed 
2 small green chillies, chopped fine
1 teaspoon garam masala
1.5 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons chickpea flour (or wheat flour)
30 grams fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 egg, beaten (optional)
1 tablespoon oil, for frying

  1. Purée the cooked beets in a blender or food processor. (I use my immersion blender.)
  2. Pour the beet purée into a large frying pan and cook for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce the liquid.
  3. Crumble in the paneer or other cheese, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the lemon juice, ginger, garlic, chillies, garam masala, and salt. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the chickpea flour and chopped coriander. Let it cool down.
  6. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
  7. Take 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll it into a ball, then gently flatten it and place it on a plate or baking tray lined with parchment paper. You should get 18 to 20 patties. At this point you can choose to chill or freeze the for future use.
  8. Heat a teaspoon of in a small frying pan over high heat, then add 4 patties and fry for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Gently turn the patties over and fry for another 1.5 minutes.
  9. Transfer the kebabs to a plate and serve with cucumber yoghurt raita and naan bread or pappadums.