Monday, September 24, 2012

Beet root palya/thoran and a trip to God's own country

A few years back we took a vacation and went on a house boat trip on the Vembannad lake in Kerala which is the longest lake in India and the largest fresh water lake in Kerala. It was a beautiful experience and as we sailed in a small houseboat on the calm waters, we were treated to some of the most delicious food over the course of 2 lunches, a dinner, a breakfast and a few snacks in between including the famous Kerala appam. One of the dishes that caught my fancy is the simple beetroot thoran or palya as we call in Kannada. It was very close to the palya nammamma makes with a few variations and the coconut lover that I am, I fell in love with the thoran that had almost the same quantity of grated coconut as the beetroot pieces - Hehehe.

Palya in Karnataka is typically steamed or sauteed vegetables with seasoning. These do not have a lot of masala ingredients and amma didn't use onions unless it was the potato-onion palya. The masala palyas are made for different purposes such as mixing it with rice to convert into a Bhaath. Gojju, chutney and other condiments bring the spicy accompaniment in Karnataka meals. I liked the house boat version as it had finely chopped onions which gave a distinct flavor to the palya. Nammamma typically cooks the vegetables and then pours over the seasoning on top but for this dish I follow my houseboat cook's method of cooking the vegetables in the seasoning. Amma uses chana dal & urad dal in the seasoning and they stay crunchy since they are poured on top.

Let us get ready to cook up a simple beetroot palya. With flavoring agents added in to this palya, I can just eat up a bowlful like salad. You can serve it as a side dish. Either way, treat yourself to a rich in antioxidants, heart healthy palya.
What do you need to make Beetroot Palya? 
2 medium sized beetroots
2 Tblsp finely chopped shallots or red onions
1 Tblsp grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp cumin
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
2 dry red chilies broken into pieces
5-6 curry leaves
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp sugar
How do you make Beetroot palya? 
  • Wash, peel and chop beetroots into really small pieces. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafortida, mustard and cumin. Let the mustard crackle.
  • Add the chili pieces and curry leaves followed by chopped onions. 
  • Let the onions sweat for a minute, add the beetroot, grated coconut, salt and sugar.
  • Cover and cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes, the pieces cook in the juices released.
  • Stir it once, cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the pieces become soft. 
  • Switch off, serve hot or warm. I can eat this palya by itself like a salad. 
  • Choose fresh, juicy beetroots for this recipe for best taste.
  • Choose onions that are milder in flavor (shallots work best followed by the regular red onions)
  • I like finely chopped beetroot which actually cooks faster too, alternatively, you can grate them on the bigger side of the grater for a similar effect.
  • If you are worried about the beetroot getting burnt, add a Tblsp of water.
  • Addition of sugar helps retains the rich color of beetroot and also brings out the natural sweetness of beetroots.


LG said...

Beetroot palyakke eerulli hakodu gottilla ri, next time try madthini. Namma maneli beetroot tumba istapadtare ellaru.

NamsVeni Pothas said...

beetroot palya is very very attractive with it's typical color. it is very tasty also.

Sangeetha Nambi said...

Love this ever...

Premalatha Aravindhan said...

Healthy recipe,my daughters fav...

Roshni said...

looks delish.. you are right, most thorans have the same quantity of veg and coconut..

Nagashree said...

LG - I agree, eerulli in beetroot palya was unknown to me too :-) but I liked the flavor of fried onions. try maadi may be you will too. Use just a Tblsp to start with and chop it fine.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Beet root looks yum..reminds me of our honeymoon....houseboats ...backwaters and of course the delightful Sadhya meal on a plantain leaf

Priya said...

Love this healthy and delicious thoran simply with curd rice.

SSIS said...

houseboat trip in Kerala seems something like we are visiting in a heaven....