The words 'Beetroot kulambu' doesn't make me gape with a look of horror on my face now. But it did once. I was 12 then. Both Amma and Appa had to goto a very early wedding at 4 am in a different town. And my neighbor, an Aunty who lived with her family, in the house above ours, volunteered to serve us breakfast. My younger sister and me liked that Aunty, so we didn't think much about the breakfast, until she arrived with the food and declared it was her special idlis with beetroot kulambu. You should have seen the look on our faces. We were speechless. Being tweens at the time, Beetroot was one of the many vegetables we hated with passion. We could barely swallow the 1 tbsp of beetroot poriyal Amma forced us to eat. And we've always had chutneys, chicken curries, kurmas, sambar to go with idlis..Never ever heard of anybody making beetroot curry to go with ildis.
And, here this Aunty had made a kulambu (of all things blasphemous) out of the dreaded beetroots and was heaping it on our plates while we were watching with our wide eyed pale faces. We never uttered a word. Just shook our heads to whatever she was talking and dipped our idlis as lightly into the curry as humanly possible without touching the beetroots. We forced ourselves to swallow it without ever biting into the idlis. And then, she asked something eagerly which made us almost cry. 'Want more?' 'NO, NO, NOOOO Aunty, we are full! Very full.. Thanks for the breakfast, It is VERY tasty!! Thank you!' She believed us, or so we thought until Amma came back. Now Aunty caught hold of her before we could tell Amma what happened and warn her (or beg her not to expose us). We didn't really hear Amma come back or the Aunty talking to her, but we did manage to hear Amma laugh. Roaring with laughter was more like it. She laughed and laughed and then applauded the Aunty for making us eat beetroot without a word, which Amma could never do. Needless to say that the next few days were sheer torture - Aunty kept teasing us if we wanted anymore of her very TASTY beetroot kulambu.
I guess a lot of things have changed in the next 18 years. I make beetroot kulambu these days. And eat it thinking that it is yummy! I adapted this recipe from my chicken curry recipe. It pairs well with rotis, idlis or dosas. I don't think it goes well with rice though.
Beetroots - 2 big ones, peeled and chopped into cubes
Onion - 1/2, chopped into big pieces
Ginger - 1 inch
Garlic - 3 pods, peeled and chopped into twos
Curry leaves - few
Cinnamon - 1
Clove - 2
Saunf / Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Grated Coconut - 4-5 tbsp
Red chillies - 2
Oil - 1 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Heat oil in a pan and add the cinnamon, clove and fennels seeds. When they are roasted, add everything else except coconut and the beetroot and saute well for a few mins. Add coconut and roast for another minute. Let it cool and grind this with some water, into a fine paste.
Put the chopped beetroot and ground paste into a pressure cooker, add salt and pressure cook for one whistle. Ready to serve hot with rotis, idlis or dosas.