Did I mention I adore Beets. Aside from their nutritional advantage (high in folic acid, phytonutrients, potassium, & are “cardiovascular health” friendly root vegetables), I relish them for their earthy sweetness. Though I can eat them by themselves, I enjoy them especially when roasted, their earthy sweetness like truffles is intoxicating to me. In addition to the red variety, I try to keep an eye out for the golden heirloom beets. The vibrancy of color interplay is quite striking.
Sambar and boiled Rice are a staple in every household in Southern India, especially in Tamil Nadu. It is made fresh every day. Plain Toovar dal is first boiled then made deliciously sour with tamarind paste and spiced with the addition of special sambar powder (mixture of roasted spices). This basic Sambar can be varied daily with the addition of different vegetables.
My twist on the basic version is making it with Beets. Beets and lentils create a delicious marriage. Even though beets are not universally liked; my version of Sambar with Beets not only imparts a glorious color to the dish but adds a delicate sweetness. A nutritious and low-calorie addition to any meal. Serve it with rice or eat it like soup.
Sweet, savory, earthy, and tangy, this vegetarian lentil soup will please all your senses. All the spices and lentils required for this recipe can be easily procured in your local Asian grocery store.
- 3-4 Beets (peeled and chopped into cubes)
- 1 Cup Toovar Dal
- 4 stems Curry Leaves
- 2-3 Tbs Sambar Powder (I make my own, feel free to substitute with store-bought)
- 2 big Onions, sliced thick
- 4-6 – Dry Red Chili
- Pinch of Hing (Asefotida)
- 1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds
- 5-6 cups Water
- Tamarind Paste or Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice to taste
- Salt to taste
- Rinse Toovar Dal couple of times in water.
- Bring lentils, beets. salt, pinch of turmeric powder, water, and curry leaves to a boil on high heat in a pressure cooker. After 1st whistle lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Heat clarified butter or vegetable oil in a heavy-set pan. When hot add hing, curry leaves and Mustard seeds. Add dry red chili and onions. Saute for a few moments until the onions are translucent.
- Add sambar powder and stir. Add the dal and beets mixture. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- I prefer lemon juice which I add after the sambar is cooked. If you prefer tamarind paste, add it after the sambhar has cooked for 15 minutes and simmer for additional 10 minutes. Check seasoning for salt.
- Serve hot with boiled rice or eat as a soup.
Have you tried using beets in unique combinations? What’s your experience like? I would love to hear from you, until next time….have a delicious day!!