Beetroot chops, cutlets and Monsoon magic

Monsoon Magic with … Beets

Ever since my Patna wali aunt served me “the beetroot curry” I had been running away from the beetroot since long until few good things happened in my life that had changed my perceptions about food in general, and especially the beetroots. Now I can not blame my poor aunt to make that awful beetroot curry, as that is the only way we Bong (Bengali) knows how to make aloo, beet ar gajar er dalna meaning potato, beetroot and carrot curry, with sweetness overloaded. Even the whole garam masala and bay leaves can not rescue that dish from going down to the trash.  But who will tell her the truth? As there were many admirers of that sweetest beetroot curry in the family, so I was left with no other choice than to secretly hide it under the saakbhaja or stir fried greens, another dish on my “not so palatable” list. My crime was unceremoniously reported by my younger cousins who had tried to imitate me but got caught in the action, thus revealing my master plans to the elders. Soon I was labelled as “spoilt and fussy eater”, the discussion did not ends there and soon everything boiled down to my upbringing, pointy fingers were raised and my Ma was made the scapegoat. But no amount of scolding can make me eat that.

vegetable chop cutlet

Beetroots were the rarest vegetable in my family, except when my dad used them to prepare the devilicious good mutton stew, Ma never made it knowing my personal relationship with the vegetable. But come winter, me and my cousins used to flock around the chopwala near our local post office gully who is known for making awesome beetroot chops and dishing out those awesomeness in just 6 Rs. I rarely cares about the beetroots, for most of the time my attention remain focused on the neighboring cart, the old man who used to sell awesome phuchkas. And guess what ? I was never allowed to gulp a single of that tangy and fried umm..well phuchkas (literally don’t know how to transliterate it).

beetroot chop cutlet

So my love-hate relationship with the beetroots continued till I discovered how Russians had perfectly managed to nail the sweetness of beetroots. The borscht was savior to me for more than one reason. The beets are powerhouse of nutrients, thus incorporating them regularly in our diet is must I will say, at the same time the dish perfectly deals with the earthy flavours of the beets which is quiet repellent to me.

Like a true blooded Bong who cannot survive without Rabindrasangeet, exceptions are there like me,  chops and cutlets are Bong’s another favourites after phuchkas I will say, a British legacy that we are so proud of. The crumbed, breaded and eggy chops are true to its origin till date, while rest of the India lavishes on pakora that uses besan or chickpea flour, we Bongs remain satiated with our flour based chops and cutlets. From potatoes, fish, chingri or prawns to mocha aka banana blossoms, chicken, mutton and beet- carrots duo, we make chops out of everything. Quiet literally !

vegetable beetroot chop

Beetroot chops, cutlets and Monsoon magic
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Deep or shallow fried Kolkata street food vegetable chop or beetroot chop / cutlet is one easy and crowd pleaser appetizer.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Beetroot (finely grated) : 2 cups
  • Boiled Potatoes (starchy kind) : 2-3 medium size
  • Roasted peanuts (halved or coarsely crushed) : ¼ cup
  • Green chillies : 1 tsp finely chopped
  • Cilantro : 2 tsp finely chopped
  • Coconut (a handful) : finely sliced into bite size pieces
  • Flour as requires to dust the cutlets
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Egg (lightly beaten) : 2
  • Breadcrumbs as require to roll the cutlets
  • Salt to taste
  • Bengali bhaja masala / roasted ground spice : 2 tsp
  • {Roast separately one teaspoon each of cumin seeds and fennel seeds, dry red chillies 2, black peppercorns 10 -12, cloves 5-6 and grind them to fine powder}
  • Chaat masala or dry amchur/ mango powder : a large pinch
  • Hing / Asafoetida : a tiny pinch
  • Black salt : ½ tsp
Instructions
  1. Heat a tablespoon oil in a pan, temper it with hing, add the grated beetroots, saute them lightly on high heat for few minutes till the moisture evaporates. Lowewr the heat and add the green chillies, roasted ground spices, salt and chaat masala. Mix them really well. Cook for few more minutes till the spices incorporates well into the beetroots. Make sure that the mixture is very dry else the cutlets will become little soggy.
  2. Switch off the heat and add further the chopped cilantro, roasted peanuts, finely sliced coconuts, 2-3 tablespoon breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon beaten egg. Mix them well with your hand till the mixture become slighlty lumpy and can hold on its own.
  3. Divide the beetroot mixture into desired shapes and sizes. Refrigerate them for an hour.
  4. Mash the boiled potatoes and season it with black salt and black pepperpowder.
  5. Divide the mashed potatoes into desire size and shape so as to make cover for beetroot chops.
  6. Heat enough oil for deep frying. Prepare an assembly line of white flour, bread crumbs and beaten eggs. Use shallow plates to dip the cutlets.
  7. Take out the beetroot chops from the fridge, enclose them nicely and tightly in potato shells.
  8. Mix the flour and breadcrumbs together. Take almost equal proportion of both, in 1:1 ratio.
  9. Dip each of the potato shells filled with beetroot mixture in beaten egg and roll it nicely and evenly in flour-breadcrumbs mixture. Make sure that the chops are evenly coated on all sides.
  10. Shallow fry each of the chops in enough oil till golden brown. Drain them on kitchen towel.
  11. Serve hot with plain old ketchup.
Notes
There are many variations of this recipe.
Many prefers to mix the potatoes with the beetroots. That way I feel that the potatoes mask the true taste of beets. So I make separate cover of potato shells and enclose the beetroot mixture in it. This way you can enjoy and taste the beetroots.
Egg free : If you are avoiding eggs, then make a slurry of cornflour / maida and water to dip the beetroot chops. Batter should be thin.
If you are mixing potatoes and beetroot together, then you can deep fried the chops. But when you are making potato shells to enclose the beets then remember to shallow fry it. Else it will crumble.

Enjoy Monsoon !

Sukanya