Monday, December 20, 2021

Thakurbari r Beet Baata -- Beetroot paste

Thakurbarir Ranna | Beet Baata | Beet Bhorta

Though we get each and every vegetable around the year and at all times, every season I tend to gravitate towards those vegetables which were specific to that season  while growing up. 

Well, I make an exception when it comes to three of my favorite vegetables -- tomatoes, cauliflower and coriander leaves. These were very much winter vegetables in my childhood and even while waxing merits of seasonal eating, I am so very glad that now I can have them at any time of the year.

With veggies like Beetroot, I have seen I inadvertently end up buying and cooking more of this veggie in winter than summer. Similarly with Lauki or bottlegourd, which I am pulled towards in summer months but not so much in the winter.

So anyway, every winter, beetroot reminds me of 3 things, Yes the rule of 3 is ruling me today.
Bhejetebil Chop with grated beet and carrots, Beet Gajor er Chechki and a soup that my mother would make with big chunks of carrots, beet, thick slices of onion and potato sautéed in butter and then cooked in a pressure cooker with lots of broth spiced with whole black peppercons, cardamom and probably ginger.

No doubt I loved #1 and #2 but hated #3. I have tried to make that soup a couple of times as an adult and quite enjoyed it but I don't know why LS calls it "chemical jhol" and refuses to have anything to do with it!!

This time when I got beetroot, I wanted a quick easy recipe and found the Beet Baata in the slim book titled Thakurbari'r Ranna.  Now in contrast to popular belief, the recipes included in this book were not necessarily what was cooked in the Tagore Household, neither were they Rabindranath Tagore's favorite dishes.

This book is written by Purnima Thakur, daughter of Nalini Devi and Pramatha Chaudhuri. In the preface, the author very clearly says that these recipes are collected from a tattered recipe book handed down to her by her aunt, Indira Devi Chaudhurani. Indira Devi, the favorite niece of Rabindranath Tagore, had never entered a kitchen or cooked on a regular basis. But she was a connoisseur of good food and whenever she liked a dish that she tasted, she made sure to collect the detailed recipe from the cook and diligently note it down in her book. Purnima Tagore has also included some of her mother's recipes in the book. 

Surprisingly, never once in the book has the author mentioned a dish being cooked in the Tagore Kitchen nor anything about Rabindranath Tagore enjoying "beet baata" on a winter afternoon. She has very deftly and cleanly kept Tagore out of it and yet every time, someone cooks and shares a recipe from "Thakurbari r Ranna"  they want you to believe that the dish will make a poet of you.

If that is your intention, you have to skip this recipe. However you would be foolish to do so. From whomsoever this recipe of "Beet Baata" was collected, was a genius. It is the  easiest thing to do with beets and gives you way more value than the effort you put in. 

Thakurbari r Beet Baata -- Beetroot paste

Beetroot - 1 big beet, peeled and chopped in cubes. Not very small cubes as everything will have to be mashed up eventually

Soak in water
Posto or Poppy seeds - 2 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Green Chilies - 2-3

Kalonji or Nigella seeds - 1/2 tsp
Mustard Oil
Salt - to taste

Peel and chop the beet. Pressure cook for 6-7 minutes, about 5-6 whistles. 

While the beet is cooking, make a thick paste of the poppy seeds, mustard seeds and green chilies with splashes of water

Once the pressure releases, take out the cooked beet and make a coarse paste of it. User your mixer. I used my Nutribullet.

In the same jar with the beet paste, add the poppy seed + mustard paste. Add a few drops of mustard oil. Give it a whirr few more times.

Now warm 1Tbsp of Mustard oil in a pan. Temper with 1/4th tsp of Kalonji/Nigella seeds. Add the beet paste. Saute for 4-5 minutes and dry off excess liquid. Add salt to taste.

Serve the baata with some rice 

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  1. Sounds simple and delicious!

  2. Veg stew or chicken stew was all I could do, with beet!Or most,made salad!Now I will try this recipe-thanks

  3. Thanks! Being a non-Bong (but married in a food-loving Bong family), I always had this urge to to learn to cook these authentic bangla dishes. Of course my MIL did teach me the basics, but, the credit of teaching me the nuances of this cuisine goes completely to you! I have followed some recipes of yours 'ekkebare chokh bondho kore' and they have turned out to be amazing! A heartfelt gratitude to you! Thanks a bunch!

  4. বিটবাটা করাই যায়, সোজাসাপ্টা সুস্বাদু রান্না বোঝাই যাচ্ছে, কিন্তু 'কেমিক্যাল ঝোল'টা স্রেফ নামের কারণেই টানছে বেশি। ওটা ট্রাই করতেই হবে।

  5. Aha .. tumi chaliye jachho food blog the way you used to do in 2010 when i discovered your blog and learnt so many dishes and cooked too.
    I thought beet route never graduated beyond bong vegetable chop and some cabbage salad dotted with beet julienne.
    The other day had one burger with thick beet route patti , cheese and sauce (havanaro) . Very nice .
    Now i will try this one .
    By the way today i cooked your Matar dal recipe 1 and was remembering you..
    Next time you come to Cal , tell me in advance . I want to meet you .


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