Monday, 10 December 2012

What a Grate Beet!

Dolce die Barbabietola Rossa con Cocco, Uva Secca & Pistacchio
Beetroot Halwa with Coconut, Raisins & Pistachio

I had heard of, but never tried Halwa, my favorite Indian dessert, usually made from carrots, in a variation made of beetroot... and how could I resist that temptation? It was something I simply HAD to try for myself! A simple dish with a rich and satisfyingly natural flavor, Halwa is good in an authentic and down-to-earth way that I really like. And I hope you will like it too!

The beets were there- a whole pack of them. I had just used 2 to make my supper and had 3 left over to make- what exactly I didn't know with. I was definitely not thinking of dessert at the beginning! But then I remembered the Halwa and from that second on, there was no doubt left in my mind! I needed to get grating and to get busy with another culinary adventure! 

I started off by dry-roasting a little cardamom until it became fragrant and then added the coarsely grated beetroot to the pan. I stirred it constantly for 2-3 minutes, until it began to dry out a little and become really hot- and then added a small splash of rose water, a small sprinkle of sugar and about half as much grated coconut as I had beetroot. 

I continued stirring, until the coconut had mixed thoroughly in with the beetroot and then added enough milk to just cover everything. I added the sugar earlier so that it would caramelize the beetroot a little and bring out its natural sweetness, but now added a little Stevia to make this into a real dessert- you can of course stick with sugar if you wish. And you should sweeten it to taste as well- I am loath to dictate to you, as I found it perfectly delicious with just a teaspoon of Stevia, but as some people have a rather sweet tooth, you will just have to try it and see. I added a good sprinkle of cinnamon and a little nutmeg and continued stirring, stirring, stirring- much as you do when you make a risotto or rice pudding- and similarly, you continue doing so until all of the excess moisture has reduced down.

It took between 15-20 minutes, but after that time I added a handful of raisins and a handful of pistachio splinters, stirred them in well and turned off the heat. I don't like to overcook raisins- I like them to just warm up and absorb some moisture and become juicy again- and 5 minutes of steaming in the heat were plenty for that. Once it had cooled down a little, I added a last little sprinkle of coconut flakes and then served it up with a last few splinters of pistachio and a big smile... because it was really delicious! What an adventure and what a treat! And hopefully one you will discover for yourselves too!

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