Beetroot Dip Recipe (video)
That fat burly red vegetable with a pungent and earthy aroma. Like marmite, you either love it or hate it. As a young teen, I recall hating beets, but grew fond of this vegetable as I got older realising all its benefits. This vegetable is not new to our table, it is as old as the Greek and the Roman civilisations, and appears in many ancient cookbooks which I love reading such as The Taste of Ancient Rome. Did you know that the darker a vegetable or fruit the healthier it is!!! Beets are considered a super vegetable, as they are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The amino acid Betaine in the beets helps detox our liver and regulate blood pressure. I make sure that I drink a small shot of beetroot juice with ginger every day, which gives me a great boost to carry on with my chores.
I recall a sweet story my mom told me about her childhood, which I would like to share. It goes back to the 40s when she was a child. At that time, it did not take much to entertain children who found joy and pleasure in the simplest acts of life.
My great grandfather was a famous Damascene pickle merchant. He made pickles in big barrels which he exported to many neighbouring countries. My mom used to spend the summer with all her twenty or so cousins at his workshop washing, peeling and cutting beets to add to pickled turnips (which we adore with falafel) in order to give these white pale turnips a nice dark rosy colour. She used to have competitions with her cousins as to whose hands would have the darkest staining, and it did not matter whether the staining found its way to their lips mimicking lipstick which was a grownup affair. They were having fun and at the same time they were helping granddad.
I am sure that, now as I mention staining, many of you are wondering why our hands and other foods go red when in contact with beets. The reason for this is attributed to the betaine pigments in the beets which are water soluble hence the staining.
When it comes to food my inquisitive instinct kicks in, and I start a quest to learn everything I can about food and the culture it stems from, especially when the big question ‘WHY’ is involved? Thinking of our Levant food, why is an acid element like lemon juice or vinegar added to beets in almost every recipe? Upon researching this, I found that an acid element helps with the body’s absorption process of the iron packed in beets. I really wonder sometimes … did our ancestors know this before all this advanced science, or was it merely a marriage of flavours for them!!!!
This beets dip is so easy to make, and although it is an ancient appetiser embedded in our Levant cuisine if nestles perfectly well in the new western healthy food trends.
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500 grams cooked beetroot
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons tahini
½ cup low fat yogurt
¼ cup lemon juice
Peel the boiled beetroots and cut into small cubes.
Place the beet cubes in a strong blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until it reaches a smooth texture.
Taste the dip and adjust the salt and acidity to taste.
Serve with fresh or cumin toasted pita bread. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if desired
Walnuts can be added for an added crunch if desired.
You can roast or steam the beetroots in order to preserve all the nutrients.
You can follow the same recipe using steamed pumpkin.
If the dip is too loose just add another table spoon of tahini and this will firm it up.