Khoresht-e-Laboo – Beetroot Hotpot

OK – so this isn’t one of the classic Persian khoreshts (casseroles). In fact my mother-in-law looked at me in horror when she realised what I was cooking (until she tried some, that is). And when I tried to pass it off as an Afghan dish (Qorma-e-Choughandar) our little Afghan helper just laughed. But it kind of rocks. And you can’t deny how pretty it is. It has been refreshing to see how child-like we all are at heart: since we opened our deli area in the shop, it is always the pink and red foods which sell out the quickest.
And it is just such a virtuous dish. Beetroot is of course really good for the kidneys, as well as lots of other bits of you. Add carrots and onion and ginger and you’ve got a powerful tonic to shore you up against Winter lurgy.
Ingredients: (for 4)

  • large knob of butter (or vegan equivalent thereof) + splash of oil
  • 1 large (red, if poss) onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red capsicum pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1cm knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 hot red chillies (adjust according to preference – we like it hot)
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
  • 4 medium – large beetroot, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 80g yellow split peas (chana dall)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or use a ketchup + balsamic vinegar mix)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • salt to taste

Purple pinnies on? Melt the butter/oil mix in a large pan and fry off the onion and pepper. As the former begins to soften, throw in the ginger and chilli, followed after a minute or so by the carrot and beetroot. Allow the vegetables to cook for a couple of minutes more and then add the spices. Keep stirring for a wee while, and then tip in the split peas and add around 800ml of cold water. Bring the pan to the boil before adding the pomegranate paste and the tomatoes.
Turn down the heat and allow the khoresht to simmer gently for around 50 minutes, or until the vegetables are just tender and the split peas are cooked.
Serve either with warm bread or over rice. A crisp green salad would be a nice accompaniment. Oh – one more tip: don’t use your finest white table linen.

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