We had company over last week in the form of two lovely in-laws (mine) and even though there was no blog post while they were here, there was a lot of cooking for them. I enjoyed every moment of the free time and I know you might be laughing at me calling cooking “free time”, but this is what I enjoy doing. When I write that I’m lazy and would prefer just sitting on the couch and watching TV, that is also true. The common thread running through both of my favourite pastimes is that I love having a purpose. I embrace both with vigour and a bag of cheese puffs.
Here’s a recipe I tried out the week I wrote my last post. It must have been a Saturday. I wanted dinner and those two chicken thighs wouldn’t have been satisfying enough on its own. Or maybe they would have, but I’m Indian and we love sides with our rice. Also there is this “having to share with your partner” nonsense. I’M JOKING that’s a joke!! I thought that since I was going to make the effort to fry the chicken, I might as well make a pickle with the cabbage and poach some beets (said nobody ever but remember, I enjoy this). Beets cooked in boiling water have always been my favourite way to eat them. It’s how I ate them when I was in Goa. That texture instantly takes me back home and as big as roasting vegetables is here in America, stove-top vegetables will always be my #1. That and spice, briny, pickled vegetables. I’ve also been eating a lot of oranges lately so I added it to the mix. I didn’t have all the ingredients memorised when I recreated this salad yesterday, but this is just as good even without the chicken thighs and rice on the side. This is a great side salad and if you plan on eating it as a meal, throw in something creamy like yogurt or warm like boiled chana (chickpeas) or roll it up in chapati.
Beet and orange salad with pickled cabbage
I’ve already covered a lot of notes up above but I have two more to add and I couldn’t figure out where to squeeze it in. When I first made this, I cooked the rice in the reserved beet water instead of draining it. If you plan on doing this, make sure you scrub the beets clean with a brush so that you don’t end up with muddy water. Feel free to be creative with adding more aromatic spices to the poaching liquid as well. I think pepper would be great as well as star anise.
This recipe has oranges in it, so does the dressing. If you notice in the ingredients list, I didn’t say “supreme” or “segment” the oranges. I figure it’s a little too much of work for just a quick dinner. So I just suggest peeling the orange by and then cutting it with a pairing knife along the segments. Then you can just break it apart and get rid of as much of the pith as you can. It’s not a big deal if you don’t catch all of it. It’s part of the charm. I just used the one large orange for the salad and the dressing. I set aside 2/4 th of the orange slices and squeezed the juice out of them. It was quite a big, juicy orange. If you need more than one orange, get it! 🙂
For the cabbage pickle
- 1/2 small head of cabbage (about 4-5 packed cups), core removed and sliced into thin shreds
- 1/2 small red onion, cut into half moons (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp ground haldi (turmeric)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Place the cabbage shreds and onion in a colander and sprinkle it with the salt and sugar. Mix it using your hands and then let it sit for 15 minutes or as long as it will take you to make the spice mix.
Put a skillet with the ghee on medium-high heat and once the oil is hot, add the spices to it. The spices will toast very quickly. Stir them around in the ghee for 30-45 seconds and you will notice them turning fragrant. Immediately pour the spice mix into a mortar or a spice grinder and pulverise it to a paste. Take the cabbage out of the colander and put it in a glass jar with a lid. Pour the masala over the cabbage and then pour over the apple cider vinegar. Cover the jar and then shake it vigorously so that the masala gets all over the cabbage. If you notice any clumps of masala, open the jar and break it up with a fork. Shake once more and then pop the jar in the fridge. You can make this a week ahead and it is best used in 10 days. Keep it refrigerated.
For the salad
- 5 small beets (weighing abour 1.5 lbs), stems and leaves removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 large orange, peeled and then cut along the segments with a pairing knife
- 1/2 cup (or more) parsley, minced
Cover the beets with water + half an inch more until they are completely submerged in a medium saucepan. Salt the water and add the bay leaves to it. Bring the water to a simmer and let them cook until they are tender, for about 35-40 minutes. The beets are ready when you can pierce the skin without resistance with a pairing knife. Drain the poaching liquid and run cold water over the beets. This helps them to stop cooking. Once they’ve cooled, peel them with the help of a dish towel (that you wouldn’t mind staining red) or a paper towel. Just cover the beets with the cloth and rub them to slide off the peel. Slice them into 1/4 inch rounds or cut them into wedges.
Toss them in a serving platter with the oranges and pour the dressing (recipe below) over them. Let them sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes to marinate in the dressing. Serve with the pickled cabbage and top with lots of minced parsley. Seasons with more salt and pepper, if needed.
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 large clove of garlic, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add the orange and lemon juice to a small glass jar and pour in the olive oil. Whisk until they combine and then add the honey and garlic to it. Shake the jar until the ingredients come together. Taste for and add salt and pepper to finish.