It is not that the richest or the most lavish looking dishes will always be wanted by the body, mind and soul. Sometimes, the flavors and textures of simplicity wrapped in a dish like an easy sautéed vegetable also is quite magical. Just what you need to elevate your mood and spirits. That’s exactly what this Kerala style Beetroot Thoran does. It is quick, yet a delectable, mildly spiced and slightly sweet dry dish made with gorgeous beetroots and earthy coconut. It is a vegan recipe as well as a nutritious one too.
About Beetroot Thoran
A thoran is a traditional dry veggie preparation and a specialty from the cuisine of Kerala. It can be made with a variety of finely chopped or grated vegetables.
The Beetroot Thoran is also one such variation. There are many ways thoran can be made with or without the inclusion of some spices and herbs.
It is also one of the veggie preparations that is served in the Sadya – which is a grand vegetarian feast made during Hindu festivals and celebrations in Kerala and served on a plantain leaf.
If you do not like the raw taste of beetroot, then you should try this Beetroot Thoran recipe. It tastes great. It goes very well with roti, paratha, especially the Kerala Paratha and even steamed rice. You can also have it as a side dish.
To make the recipe, the beets are sautéed and cooked in a mix of pearl onions or onions, curry leaves, mustard seeds, green chillies or red chillies, a few spices and later finished with plenty of coconut.
In this Beetroot Thoran recipe, I wanted some spiciness that would soften the sweetness of beetroot and coconut. So, I added both red chilli and green chilli along with ginger.
I have also added coriander powder, red chili powder and crushed whole garam masala. This is my variation to this recipe. Gladly, it turns out to be just as delectable as any other version.
More On The Recipe
For this Beetroot Thoran, you can either chop the beetroots finely or grate them. However, if you want to cook this thoran quickly, then go for grated beetroots as they always cook faster as compared to chopped ones.
For all those who do not have fresh coconut, you can easily use dry or desiccated coconut as an alternative. Of course, fresh coconut adds to a unique and distinct flavor.
But the thoran tastes equally good with desiccated coconut too. Also note that Coconut oil is a must when you make this recipe.
While growing up, my mother used to make this Beetroot Thoran and Beetroot Halwa. I have also tried this dish at many Kerala restaurants in Mumbai and the taste of each of those have been really awesome.
Since my childhood, I have loved beetroot cooked in this way. So, my mother often made this thoran at home. Similar to this Beetroot Thoran, any other veggie thoran variety is also primarily vegan.
Since the spices used in a typical thoran preparation are subtle and the dish is simple, yet flavorful, it is also considered as hearty comfort food.
- You can use grated or finely chopped beetroot for this recipe. However, if you want to fasten the cooking process, opt for grated beetroot.
- To facilitate faster cooking of the beetroot, you can also add about ¼ cup or ⅓ cup of water to the beetroot.
- If the moisture dries up and the thoran looks dry while cooking, then add some water as needed.
- You can also cover and cook the beetroot which will make them cook faster.
- Thoran is generally never spicy, but feel free to add more green chillies if you want to increase the spice factor in the dish.
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- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds – optional
- 4 to 5 pearl onions or 2 to 3 small onions, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 dry red chilies – seeds removed
- 1 green chili – finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
- 10 to 12 curry leaves – whole or chopped
- 3 beetroots (medium-sized) or 2 large beetroots, finely chopped or grated
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder – optional
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder – optional, can swap with ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- salt as required
- ⅓ cup grated fresh coconut
For crushed masala powder – optional
- 1 green cardamom
- 2 black peppercorns
- ½ inch cinnamon
- 1 clove
- Rinse the beets first. Peel and then either grate or shred them or chop finely. Peel the pearl onions and rinse them. Slice them thinly. Peel, rinse and finely chop the ginger and chop the green chilli.
- Crush the whole spices to a semi-fine powder in a mortar-pestle. These steps of crushing the spices and adding them to the beetroot thoran is optional.
Make Beetroot Thoran
- Heat the coconut oil in a kadai or wok. Keep heat to a low.
- Add the mustard seeds. When they pop and crackle, add the cumin seeds.
- The cumin seeds will start to sizzle. Immediately add the sliced pearl onions or small onions.
- Sauté the pearl onions on a medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Now add the red chili, chopped green chillies and ginger.
- Sauté for a minute. Add the curry leaves.
- Lower the heat and add all the dry ground spices including the crushed and powdered masala.
- Make sure not to burn the spices.
- Sauté for some seconds on a low heat and then add the grated beetroot. Also add salt. You can also add finely chopped beets instead of grated beets.
- Mix the grated beetroot with salt.
- Cook the beetroot on a low to medium-low heat without a lid with occasional stirrings. Note that if the beetroot is grated, they will cook faster.
- It takes approximate 10 to 12 minutes for grated beetroot to cook on low to medium-low heat.
- Do check the beets while cooking and if the beetroot are sticking to the pan, add a splash of water. Stir to mix and continue to cook.
- When the beetroot is tender and softened, add the grated coconut and cook for a minute or two just for the flavors to blend in. Switch off the heat.
- You can also keep the beetroot slightly crunchy if you prefer.
- Serve Beetroot Thoran hot with steamed rice, chapati or even paratha.
- To facilitate faster cooking of the beetroot, you could add some ¼ cup or ⅓ cup of water to the beetroot.
- You can also cover with a lid and cook the beetroot.
- If the moisture dries up and the thoran looks dry, then add some water while cooking
- Crush the whole spices to a semi-fine powder in a mortar pestle or use ¼ teaspoon garam masala instead. Adding the crushed spices is optional.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Beetroot Thoran post from the archives, first published on July 2010 has been republished and updated on November 2022.