Beetroot and mushroom curry with rice and onion pakora

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Vegetarian mains

Beetroot and mushroom curry with rice and onion pakora

Main Serves 2 50 min
The idea of a beetroot curry always seems jarring at first, used as we are to the more traditional red and ochre hues. Beetroot's sweet earthy taste marries well with cumin and mustard. You could grate it instead of dicing it, but since the lentils soften and break down I felt it would make sense to retain some texture.

Cook's notes

Salting the sliced onions early helps to soften them and draws out some of the liquid. When deep frying make sure that the oil is hot enough but not smoking. In order to check that your pan is at the right temperature for frying, just add a single piece of onion to the oil as it warms. When it starts to bubble and fry, you are ready to go.


  • 200g beetroots
  • 200g Portobello mushrooms
  • 25g ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh chilli
  • plain oil for frying, e.g. vegetable or light olive
  • beetroot spice pot:
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 75g red lentils
  • 250g passata
  • 150g brown basmati rice
  • 1 large or 2 small red onion
  • ½ tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp black onion seeds
  • 25g chickpea or gram flour
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 40 min
  • Step 1

    Wash and peel the beetroots. Cut them into a 1cm dice. Slice the mushrooms into generous chunks. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Peel and finely chop or crush the garlic. Deseed and finely chop the chilli.
  • Step 2

    Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the saucepan and add the mushrooms. Fry for 5 minutes until starting to colour. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and the spice pot. Fry until the mustard seeds start to pop, adding more oil if it starts to stick, 1-2 minutes.
  • Step 3

    Add the diced beetroot and red lentils. Stir everything together and add 250g of passata, followed by 400ml of water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 30–40 minutes until the lentils and beets are cooked.
  • Step 4

    Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the onion. Sit the slices in a bowl and season generously with salt. Add the curry powder and black onion seeds. Mix well and keep to one side.
  • Step 5

    Put a kettle on to boil. Rinse the rice well in a sieve under cold running water. Put the rice in the saucepan with a pinch of salt. Cover with plenty of boiling water, stir once and bring up to a simmer. Cover the rice loosely and cook for 20 minutes until just tender. Leave to sit for 5 minutes at the end.
  • Step 6

    While the rice is cooking, put your oven on 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Add the gram flour to the onions and add enough water to make it into a sticky batter. About 2 tablespoons depending on the amount of water released by the salt. Add a shallow layer of oil to the frying pan, 2mm approx. Bring it to a medium to high heat.
  • Step 7

    Check the temperature by adding a slice of onion (see cook's notes). Dollop dessertspoons of the onion mix into the pan and flatten them out with the back of the spoon. Fry until golden, flip them gently and repeat on the other side.
  • Step 8

    Do this in batches of no more than 4 at a time. Slide the pakoras onto the baking tray once they are done and pop them in the oven to keep them warm. When the curry is cooked, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and a squeeze or two of lemon juice to suit your taste.
  • Step 9

    Serve with the rice and top with the crispy pakoras.

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