the colour purple

beetroot curry

It’s said that we eat with our eyes first and as someone who works for an organization in which one of their most successful products has the by-line ‘flavour you can see’ I whole heartedly agree. I know I’ve banged on about my love of beetroot in the past but let me tell you, there’s a whole new side to beets that I’ve been immersing myself in… and well, I just can’t get enough.

I first came across the very idea of a beetroot curry when I recently became acquainted with the charming and slightly unorthodox Paul van Reyk. Now Paul is a lovely fellow and as entertaining a dinner companion as one would ever wish to have, but one of the things that really drew me to Paul was his food ancestry.

You see Paul was born and spent some of his childhood in Sri Lanka and while his family did move to Australia, fortunately for those of us who have met Paul, he retained a strong interest in the cuisine from his homeland. As a curry fan and a beetroot lover I was immediately excieted when Paul mentioned that he had a recipe for a beetroot curry. I knew that I just had to book a curry night into my social calendar.

And what a night it was. Trying to keep it simple I opted for a lamb curry curiously named lamb smoore (no relation to the chocolate and marshmallow confection of the same name in the US), the prized beet curry and some lovely dahl made with a combo of Indian red lentils which cook away to a lovely saucey consistency and persian red lentils, a cousin to the lovely puy which retain their shape. And to round things out there was the cooling forces of mint and coriander chutney and some steamed basmati rice…all good things

 note: If you’re interested in trying more Sri Lankan food check out Paul’s website Buth Kuddeh. For my favourite rice recipe click on the link HERE.

beetroot curry
serves 6-8 as part of a shared meal


Adapted from my mate Paul van Reyk on his comprehensive Sri Lankan food site.

As with all curries the heat level is all in your hands. For those of you who like it spicy leave the seeds in but if you’re cooking for a more sensitive crowd feel. When you first put this together in the pot it looks a little weird with the bright green chillies contrasting with the beets and coconut milk. But trust me, after a little while simmering together, everything get bathed in that gorgeous regal purple colour that is pretty hard to pass up.

1 large onion, peeled & diced
2T vegetable oil
2 bunches large beetroot (approx 900g)
3 sprigs fresh curry leaves
6 large green chillies, halved lengthwise
1T ground dried coriander
2t sugar
1/4C red wine vinegar
350mL coconut milk

Trim beets and scrub well. Cut off any scanky bits of beet and cut each into 6-8 wedges. Place oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and cook for approx 10mins stirring frequently or until onion has softened. Add prepared beets, curry leaves, chillies and coriander and fry for a few more minutes.

Season with sugar and red wine vinegar and add coconut milk and enough water to make a creamy sauce. Bring to a simmer and then cook covered for 40min to 1 hour or until beetroot is tender and everything has a lovely regal purple hue.

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  • Nice work. Have done a Maddhur Jaffrey beetroot curry, but didn’t use curry leaves (which I have in front garden) so will give it a try. Like using freshly grated coconut with beetroot.

  • I gotta be honest this sounds absolutely hideous, but, interestingly, also strangely compelling. If you put a bowl of it in front of me I definitely have a go. And something tells me it would be delicious…

  • Ooohhh…Scrumptious. What another delicious way to cook beetroot…a vegetable that I think is underrated. Thank you!

  • my favourite colour
    …and guessing by what i have read, might be my fave recipe too
    time to start cooking.

  • Go grrrrrl, glad you got it under yer belt and loved it as much as I – made some myself the other day – always have to remember the next day why I am peeing red!

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