Kerala Style Beets Stir Fry / Beetroot Thoran

We started the great lent and we follow a vegetarian diet at home for 50 days.  I was checking my blog for vegetarian dishes and was surprised to not find the beets stir fry recipe on the blog, which is a common side dish at Thomas's residence. 

Today I am sharing my grandma's Beets Thoran recipe, which is one of my favorites of hers.  When I made it years ago for the first time, my husband was surprised by the tangy taste in beets stir fry.  I had to disclose the special ingredient used in the recipe.  My grandma alternatively used green mango or Brindleberry (Malabar tamarind/Kudam puli) in this recipe.  Green mango is not easily available here, so I usually go with the tamarind.

I love picking up the beets that comes with leaves from the grocery store.  Back in India we used to get only the tuber part without the leaves.  I follow my grandma's recipe to make this stir fry.   She used to prepare it in earthen pot (Chatti) to give it a more earthy rustic taste and finally garnishes it with fried rice to give it a crunch.

The tamarind in this recipe balances the sweetness of the beets.   In this preparation  I use the leaves, beets and a good amount of shredded coconut.  This dish is spicy, tangy and slightly sweet and pairs well with steamed rice and plain yogurt.


3 - beets with leaves
1 small - chopped onion
1.5 cups - shredded fresh/frozen coconut
3 - 4 - green chili
1 clove - garlic
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
2 tbsp - oil
1 small piece - Brindleberry/Malabar Tamarind/Kudam Puli
1/4 cup - hot water
salt to taste

1/2 tsp - black mustard seeds
2 small - thinly sliced shallots
1 sprig - fresh curry leaves
1/2 tsp - uncooked dry rice
1 tbsp - coconut oil


  • Wash the tamarind well and soak in 1/4 cup of hot water.
  • Cut the leaves from the beets and wash them well and drain in a colander.
  • Peel the beets; wash them well and cut into small pieces.
  • Process them in a food processor till its shredded well.  Alternatively you can use a box grater and grate it.  Transfer the shredded beets in to bowl.
  • In the same food processor, pulse the grated coconut, garlic, green chili and turmeric powder.  They may turn dark pink/purple, but don't worry.  We are going to add them to beets anyway.  You can also use a motor and pestle to do this step.
  • Chop the leaves.
  • Take an earthen pot (Chatti) or a wide open pan.  Heat 2 tbsp of oil in it.  Add the onions and salt and cook till it starts to become translucent.  
  • Add the shredded beets to it and mix well.  Now add the tamarind with water to it.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped leaves and mix well.  Make a well in the middle and add the coconut mix.  Cover the coconut mix with the beets and leaves mix.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 2-3 minutes on low heat till all the water is evaporated.  Adjust the salt and cook till beets are cooked well.  Turn off the flame.
  • In a separate small pan, heat 1 tbsp oil.  Splutter the mustard seeds.  Add the rice and cook on low heat till all the rice are puffed up.  Add the sliced shallots and cook till golden brown.  Turn off the flame and add the curry leaves to it.
  • Pour the tadka over the beets stir fry.
  • Enjoy the stir fry with steamed rice, plain yogurt and a side of pickle.
  • You can half the recipe if preparing for 2 people.
  • You can use beets by itself without leaves in this recipe.
  • You can substitute tamarind with 1/2 cup chopped green mango.  If using green mango, cook it with the chopped/shredded beets.
  • Adjust the green chili per your heat tolerance. 
  • If preparing the stir fry in earthen pot on a stove top, use the low flame.  Otherwise the pot will start to smoke and will burn the stir fry.

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