In the vibrant world of beetroot dishes, this super simple beetroot poriyal is right up there along with this stunning beetroot raita. This simple plant-based dish comes together in under 30 minutes. The earthy undertones of beetroot are infused with aromatic spices and finished off with grated coconut.
This post contains lots of helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link or any of the "Jump to" links below to get to the section that you want.
This dish is known by different names in different parts of South India: In Tamil Nadu, it is beetroot poriyal; in Kerela, beetroot thoran, and in Karnataka, beetroot palya.
As mentioned briefly in the cabbage poriyal blog post, poriyal, thoran, and palya are all terms used to describe different styles of stir-fried or sautéed vegetable dishes in South Indian cuisine.
Call it what you may, they are all equally delicious!
While there are regional variations and subtle differences in preparation, the concept is the same as in any stir fry - finely chopped or sliced vegetables, quick cooking, and minimal spices.
Why you will love this beetroot stir fry
This is a recipe that your family will love!
- It's got the looks and the taste! The deep reddish-purple hue of beetroot makes this such an attractive dish and it is delicious too!
- This recipe requires hardly any prep (see notes for time-saving shortcuts).
- It is mild, sweet, and savory all the same time making it such a moreish dish!
- Ready to serve in under 30 minutes, it stores well. See notes below.
- It is a plant-based recipe that is free from many allergens. See the list below.
Allergens Free Labels
This simple plant-based beetroot recipe is
- Gluten-free (some brands of asafoetida may contain gluten - do check the label)
South Indian-style sauteed beetroot ingredients
The spices used for tempering can be bought in bulk and stored. They will stay good for months!
See the recipe card for quantities.
How do I select the best beetroot for poriyal? Look for one that is firm and has a taut skin - this indicates freshness. The firmness will make peeling it easy.
Curry powder: Use your favorite one. This is just to infuse some flavors and balance the sweetness with some spice.
Oil: Neutral is fine. Use coconut oil for a more enhanced flavor.
Curry leaves: You can find them in most Indian grocers and health food stores. I recommend that you do not skip this ingredient.
Urad dal: These white lentils add a lovely nuttiness to the dish.
Chilies: Go as high or as low in quantity with these as you want. Or do not add them at all.
Coconut: Use freshly grated, if you can get it. If not, you can use coconut flakes (desiccated coconut).
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
From the first sizzle of spices in the pan to the final garnish, this beetroot poriyal recipe promises a flavor explosion that will leave you craving for more.
So, tie on your apron, and let's create this stunning dish, shall we?
Step 1: Prepare the beets.
- Wash and remove their top and tail.
- Cut them into chunks and use a food processor, to chop them finely (almost like a mince) - in short pulses of 1-2 seconds. Time-saving hack #1 😀.
If you do not have a food processor, chop them as finely as you can manually. You can also grate them using a box grater.
Step 2: The rest of the ingredients.
- Chop the chilies.
- Measure the ingredients and keep them ready.
Step 3: Make the poriyal.
Heat oil in a wok/skillet on medium-high heat. Add the spices. Toss them around.
White lentils, cumin seeds, and asafoetida.
When the lentils start turning golden brown, add the chilies and curry leaves.
Toss them around for a few seconds.
Add the chopped beetroot, salt, and hot water. Mix to coat the beetroot with the oil and the spices. Cover.
Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the beets are tender.
Stir every now and then.
Depending on the beetroot, you may need to add another splash of water.
Take the lid off and add the curry powder and coconut (keep some aside for garnishing). Mix well and fry for another 1-2 minutes.
Garnish with some freshly grated coconut.
That's it! This simple, delicious, and gorgeous-looking beetroot poriyal is ready to serve.
Serve warm as a side to your main meal or have it on its own. See the section below for suggestions.
Serving and Storage Suggestions
- Traditionally in South India, this dish is served as part of a meal with steamed rice, a lentil dish such as sambar, a kootu (this zucchini kootu, for example), or spinach dal, a salad, mint coconut chutney or any other chutney, and a yogurt-based dish such as tomato raitha to complete the meal.
- This beetroot thoran tastes amazing in wraps and sandwiches as well! Just spread some hummus on your wrap. Place some spinach stir fry and some of the thoran to make a quick and easy on-the-go meal.
Storage: This dish will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Store it in a glass container with lid. This dish tastes best when served warm.
If you want to eat it cold, as a salad or a light meal, I suggest that you do not add the coconut in yet. Add the coconut just before you are ready to eat it. The fresh juiciness of the coconut will make it even more delicious!
Freezing: This dish freezes well for up to 3 months.
Notes and tips
Preparing and cooking beetroot:
- If using fresh ones, wash, cut the top and tail, peel, and cut them in the size and shape that is needed for the recipe.
- Pre-cook beets as part of your weekly meal prep. Cooked beetroot will stay in the fridge for 3-4 days and saves you time. Boil them in a pressure cooker until they are tender, peel and chop them. Time-saving hack #2 😀.
- You can, of course, make your job easier by buying the pre-cooked (and vacuum-sealed) beets that are available in most supermarkets. The best hack ever! 😆
When buying them from a farmers market or green grocer, I buy them with their greens. Beet greens are super healthy and tasty as well! Use them in soups or make a stir fry with them.
What is the best way to cook raw beetroot? You have a few options here:
- Cook them in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot for 15 minutes or until they are fork-tender. Make sure there is enough water for the beets to cook in.
- Roast them in the oven - Wrap each beet loosely in aluminum foil and roast in a preheated oven at 390F (200C) for an hour. Check on it every 15 minutes. The roasting time will vary depending on the size of the beet. One way to check if they are done is if a fork can slide in easily.
- Boil them in a saucepan on the stovetop until fork tender. Make sure there is enough water for the beets to cook in.
Top tip: When boiling / cooking the beetroot whole, keep the top and tail of it intact so that the color does not leak out.
Flavor boost: You can add more flavors and textures to this dish by adding any or all of these ingredients:
- A teaspoon of mustard seeds. Add them along with the lentils and cumin seeds.
- Crush 1 clove of garlic and add it along with the curry leaves and chilies.
- After removing the poriyal from the heat, add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Fresh herbs: Garnish with some finely chopped cilantro (coriander).
How to cut beetroot for the perfect balance of tenderness and crunch in beetroot poriyal?
Poriyal is all about quick cooking and that begins with finely chopping the vegetables.
As mentioned above, I use the food processor to achieve that. You can, ofcourse, dice them by hand or you can grate them. Grated beetroot cooks super fast!
The other important thing is the heat.
Start with medium-high heat and when you see that the steam building up, turn the heat down to medium, cover and cook for few minutes.
A note about beetroot
Do you, like me, absolutely love this earthy vegetable?
I mean it is hard not to love it, isn't it?! It has a stunning colour, tastes great, is versatile, and is healthy!
The only risk is the danger of deep reddish-purple stains on the cutting board and your finger tips - nothing that will last longer than a couple of washes, though!
Honestly, it is a very small price to pay for what this beauty of a vegetable can give you!
A good source of nutrients and fiber, beetroot is a fantastic vegetable for children and grown-ups alike! It is a great way to include natural sugars in your diet.
Your child, especially, will fall in love with this vegetable A) because most children have a liking for sweet-tasting food and B) they are drawn toward bright colors. Beetroot fits well on both counts!
Beetroots are versatile. Whether you roast them, fry them, boil them, pickle them, or sauté them, one thing is guaranteed - your beetroot dish will be bursting with color and flavor!
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
If you are cooking them whole, then do not cut their top and the tail. This will ensure that the beetroots do not loose their color and nutrients. When they are cooked, cut the tops and tails and their skin will peel off easily.
If you are cooking them whole or roasting them in the oven, do not peel the beetroots until they are cooked/roasted. Not peeling them before they are cooked will ensure that their color and nutrients stay intact.
Beetroot has a earthy, sweet flavor. The taste of beetroot is enhanced with simple spices and flavors such as
red pepper flakes
Beetroot Poriyal without Onion and Garlic
- 1 Wok or skillet with lid
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 Food chopper/processor or grater (optional)
- 2 big beetroots (400 grams; 14 ¼ oz. approximately)
- 2 green chilies (adjust as per taste)
- 2 tablepsoons oil
- 1 teaspoon white lentils (urad dal)
- 4-5 curry leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon powdered asafetida (hing)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ cup hot water
To finish off
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut (see notes)
- Wash and cut the top and tail of the beetroot. Cut them into chunky pieces and mince them - in short pulses of 1-2 seconds - in a food processor. You can chop them by hand or grate them if you prefer. I find mincing the best option for minimal color on your fingers and chopping board!
- Chop the chilies.
- Measure the rest of the ingredients and keep them ready.
Make the beetroot poriyal
- Add oil to your wok/skillet on medium-high heat. Add the spices for tempering. Toss them around.2 tablepsoons oil, 1 teaspoon white lentils (urad dal), ⅛ teaspoon powdered asafetida (hing), ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- When the lentils start turning golden brown, add the chilies and cutry leaves. Toss them around for a few seconds.2 green chilies, 4-5 curry leaves
- Add the beetroot, salt, and hot water. Mix. Cover.2 big beetroots, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ cup hot water
- Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until the beets are tender. Stir every 5 minutes. Depending on the beetroot, you may need to add another splash of water.
- Take the lid off and add the curry powder and coconut (keep some aside for garnishing). Mix well and fry for another 1-2 minutes.1 teaspoon curry powder, 2 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
- Garnish with some freshly grated coconut.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.