I am here in Bodh Gaya, India, working at a small bakery cafe and staying with an Indian family. I call the daughter of the Family “Sweety” and we are becoming close friends. Every time that I see Sweety or her mother, they offer me some freshly made Indian food.
One day Sweety asked me if I could show her how to make some Western food. I had already discovered that Sweetys favorite vegetables are beets so I suggested we make beet soup.
Usually I put fresh dill and bay leaves in the soup for the flavor, but I didn’t know the Indian word for these things so I couldn’t figure how to ask her for them. So, we just decided to make it without.
We made beet soup with carrots, beets, and potatoes and seasoned with onions, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper and a little lemon. Even without the dill and bay leaves, it turned out just fine.
Then by chance, a few days later, Sweety comes home with some fresh dill from the market and I was so excited to see it and we laughed a lot. Apparently fresh dill is available in India but only in the winter!
Then, the very next day, after giving Sweety a yoga lesson, Sweety offered to make me some special Tulsi masala tea. She showed me how to wash my hands before we went to her roof-top garden to pick to leaves off the sacred Tusli plant which is believed to be a goddess. We took the sacred leaves to the kitchen and she put them to steep in the water along with cinnamon and, low and behold – bay leaves!
Sweety sweetened the tea with three scoops of sugar and smiled as she gave it to me along with a few extra bay leaves so I could make soup. In the end, all the ingredients needed for a good beet soup revealed themselves. I then made a big batch of beet soup for the Cafe and we are selling it as our special.
Recipe: Beet soup
- - one big beet or a few small beets
- - the same amount of carrots as beets
- - the same amount of potatoe as beets
- - the same amount of cabbage as potatoe
- - one small onion
- - four cloves of garlic
- - half as much ginger as garlic
- - one bay leave
- - half a cup of fresh dill washed and chopped.
- - ketchup
- - the juice of one small lemon, about one table spoon.
- - a little oil.
Fill a medium-sized pot with some water, about 1/2 to 3/4 full. (You can always add more water at the end, but you can’t take it out if the soup is too watery.)
Chop the potatoes into small cubes and put them in the water to boil for twenty minutes. When the potatoes are half-way cooked, shred the cabbage and add them along with half the dill to the boiling water.
Dice the onions and crush the garlic and ginger. Grate the carrots and beets. In a frying pan, heat the oil and add the onion and bay leave. Fry until the onions are beginning to become translucent, add the ginger and garlic and fry a few minutes more. Add some salt and pepper and the grated beets and carrots. Fry for a few minutes and then add a few strong squirts of ketchup and fry a few minutes more. When it’s all cooked well, and the cabbage and potatoes are soft, add the beet mixture to the water and turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and the rest of the dill and salt and pepper to taste and more water if needed to make a nice ratio of stuff to broth.
Serve with a bit of yogurt and bread if desired. Garnich with fresh dill.
Story is from Pepper, Bodhgaya India Dec, 2013