Parenting is a skillset which combines stealth and desire to feed your kids nutritious food. Beetroot Tikki is beauty plus substance. Go ahead, try it out
By Shalini Kala
When I told a dear friend of mine that I have fashionably embraced the minimalist lifestyle and that she needn’t ever worry about getting me gifts, she took it with a big pinch of salt. I have been thanking her good sense for that these last three years.
On her next visit she got me delicious big deep red tikkis– “it is a gift to be shared and eaten, soon it will turn to fertilizer and your minimalism will remain undisturbed”, her logic. She was surprised that I hadn’t ever eaten these Kolkata staples before – I confessed I hadn’t even heard of them.
Normally, my lazy self doesn’t invest much into making food look good. However, the kid is naturally artistic and who, though otherwise is busy overdosing on fats and carbs, is inclined to at least try non-fat-non-carb foods that are attractive. If I wasn’t the mother, I would easily overlook maybe even indulge this fat-carb combine, but I am supposed to introduce a nutritious and balanced diet – and that my dear has been a challenging task that has drowned me under waves of guilt way more times than I ever planned for.
I can hear my mum smirking from up there – she loves my predicament. Pay back time, I guess. Several times I have tried to calm my nerves speculating if my grandchildren will do the same!! But alas, that kind of pleasure is too far in the future…
Some years ago when I used to fervently go through all the literature I could lay hands on, on how to raise kids, I was struck by a piece of excellent practical advice – the use of stealth. Amid the dominant views of these times about treating the child as an adult, reasoning with them patiently, etc. etc.– you get the drift – slightly different from how some of us were raised – this stood out like an embarrassing faux pas, which was nonetheless, secretly integrated into many a parenting routines. Time for another confession – this has been my most potent weapon in the parenting armoury, till now it has worked with 97.6% success!
Starting as a meat loving toddler, the pre-teen decided that it was wrong to kill animals and I had been struggling for high-iron options. By the way, what is this about young kids loving only living animals and not the dead ones – discrimination at such an early age?! Who is teaching them that? I want to sue those guys. The tikki’s arrival in my life then, was opportune, truly a piece of fortune as the kid’s haemoglobin status hasn’t ever been a cause for glorious parenting raptures. Confession number three – I have been using stealth in all kinds of non-food ways too but that’s for another time. I shall let the tikki be the star today.
While the tikki exterior draws immediate attention, the bite doesn’t fail to gladden the eater – all this while the nutritious stuff stealthily enters the gut to do its good work. Beetroot, potatoes, carrots, any other vegetable, and peanuts – iron, vitamins, protein – beauty with substance, I am told.
You can make these with only beet and potatoes too, adding more veggies will give you the over-rated satisfaction of being the master of your kid’s healthy diet!! This tikki is a hit with adults too.
1 medium size boiled beetroot
2 medium size boiled potatoes
2 medium size boiled carrots – not the sweet, red north Indian winter carrots, you don’t need any more sweetness than what the beet imparts to the tikki
1 small size finely chopped onion
1-3finely chopped green chillies depending on their strength and your tolerance
A handful of finely chopped fresh coriander
A handful of roasted roughly crushed peanuts
Breadcrumbs to bring the dough together – you can use chivda or puffed rice or bread slice instead – and to cover the tikkis with before frying
1 table spoon of oil for pan frying and for moulding the tikki roundels
2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
2 teaspoon amchur powder
Salt to taste
Thoroughly clean the beetroot, potatoes and carrots. Peel carrots. Boil all these, in the pressure cooker it will take you 10-12 minutes of cooking on low heat after the first whistle. Once the cooker steam has released, open it to drain the water fully and let the vegetables cool.
Meanwhile, roast peanuts. You can do this in the oven – spread peanuts on the oven tray, let them roast at 100 degrees C for about 15-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them. You could do the same on a pan or tawa at medium low heat. Since, this requires regular stirring, I prefer the lower-effort oven option.
Peel and mash potatoes, mash in the carrots. Add the chopped onion, green chillies and coriander. Keep aside. Peel the beet, grate it. Squeeze the juice out of the grated beet – you might want to do that two to three times to reduce the fluid as much as you can.
If you don’t want to drink this red goodness, at least taste it so that you know how sweet it is to bring balance to the tikki taste. Some will knead a dough with this juice for red rotis – apparently, they feed zombies – ah, what’s the world coming to!
Add grated beet to the mashed mix along with cumin powder, amchur, salt and peanuts. Mix well. Add bread crumbs/chivda/puffed rice/bread slice to get the mix into moulding consistency. Taste and adjust spices. Greasing your fingers and palms with a little oil shape the tikkis in a size of your choice, about half inch in thickness. Cover in breadcrumbs and keep aside on a tray/plate.
Once all tikkis are prepared refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. I pan fry these with very little oil – the kid doesn’t need anymore fat, not from these “healthy” bites, plus they taste quite good anyway – on low-medium heat for about a minute on each side or till they get a nice crunchy brown hue, it will only be a hue, tikkis will remain deep red after frying too.
If making for a party, you can fry them about half hour earlier and keep in the oven at 50 degrees C. Serve warm with spicy green and sweet and sour tamarind chutneys. If there are leftovers, refrigerate, when you bring them out heat them in the oven at 50 degrees C for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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Shalini learnt to enjoy cooking at a mature age by which time she had gained many other experiences particularly through her work in agriculture and rural development. Her writing is an attempt to mix lessons from her cooking experiments with those from life in general.