Tambdi Bhajji- My Red Greens!

I am ambivalent about beets. Some things I just love, some things-not so much. Walk into a grocery store, there are some things I pick up the moment I see them. Then there are some that I give a wide berth to, even though the good marketing people of the store have placed it right in front of the door so that a customer cannot go in without checking them out. With beets, I am somewhere in between. I look at the beets and keep staring at them wondering. Should I or Shouldn’t I? After the third scorching look from the lady who seems to be waiting to buy the beets, I move ahead to buy the rest of the things I definitely want. “When was the last time I ate them? I think it was the time I made Beet Halwa. Maybe I should pick some carrots and make Gajar ka Halwa. Which reminds me I need to pick up a good bollywood movie. With a lots of song and dance. What is it with those movies that do not have songs anymore? How is someone like Salman Khan supposed to survive without songs that he could dance to as if he was crushing mushrooms under his feet? Speaking of which, I need to get some Mushrooms. Where are they? Oh, there they are, right besides the beets. Oh Beets, hmmm, Should I or shouldn’t I?” A quick look back ascertains the lady actually wanted to buy the leeks below the beets. “I definitely do not need leeks this week. But, the Bok Choy looks good. Maybe a chinese stir-fry this weekend. When was the last time I cooked Chinese? …”

Last week, I actually went ahead and bought them, not because of the roots themselves, but for the lush greens that were attached to them. They were beautiful and this time I didn’t have to think before I picked them up. I had an idea how I was going to cook them. My mom made this koddel using Red Amaranth leaves which we call Tambdi Bhajji effectively Red Greens. My brother, then a toddler, fell in love with this koddel, most probably attracted to it by its color. Somewhere down the line, the leaves that were available in the market lost their ability to generate the bright red that my brother loved and my mom, endowed with the wisdom that parents have, to make sure kids do not stop eating stuff that are actually healthy, started adding beets to it. Result,bright red curry and brother still loves it. I do not get the Red Amaranth leaves in my neck of the woods. So I substitute them with the beet greens and add chopped beets to it. Red, Red Koddel that my son was very excited about and gulped down without a fuss. The apple(or is it the beet 🙂 ) doesn’t fall far from the tree, it seems.

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Tambdi Bhajji

Cook (I pressure cook them, can be cooked in a partially covered 2 quart pot on the stove top)

*1 medium sized Beet,peeled, chopped into bite-sized cubes
*corresponding Beet Stalks, chopped into about 2 inches pieces
*One Bunch Beet Greens,washed, drained and chopped
*Salt, to taste

If not pressure cooking, then partially cook the beets and stalks before adding the greens and the salt in.
Meanwhile, grind into a smooth paste

*1/2 cup unsweetened, fresh grated coconut
*4-5 Dried Red Chillies, roasted in a little bit of oil, till it plumps up
*Tamarind, size of a marble or 1/4 tsp Tamarind Concentrate
*Water, as required

Smooth Paste would be till it is a homogenous mixture and the grated coconut does not feel grated anymore.
Once the Beets and the Greens have cooked through-the beets should disintegrate when pressed-, lower the flame to medium-low and add the

*Coconut+Chillies+Tamarind Paste

Let it come to a boil and cook till the coconut foam on top subsides about 5 minutes.
Finish with a garlic phanna (tadka) .

Heat on a low flame

*1 tsp Coconut Oil
*3-4 Garlic Cloves, crushed with their skins on

Heat the garlic and oil together and cook till the skins on the garlic turn golden. Add to the koddel and immediately cover. Mix in before serving.

Serve with Rice, cooked Plain and a Upkari, maybe chilled buttermilk on the side.
Looks like a good ‘red’ entry to JFI-Greens. Also, I nickname it ‘Laal Bhajji’ and send it across to A to Z of Indian Vegetables-Letter ‘L’.
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Note : The leaves of the Red Amaranth available in India are completely red and not striped as seen in the site linked to above. I remember my mom complaining that they are just not that red anymore and can only guess that maybe a variety between the striped and the red one came into the market.

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23 thoughts on “Tambdi Bhajji- My Red Greens!

  1. would love to know where you got tambdi bhaji in the US

    Hi Supriya,
    I uploaded the picture and didn’t get time to type out the recipe. 🙂
    I updated the post and as you can see, I used Beet Greens, However, check the sites I linked to above for Red Amaranth. They ship seeds for the red striped variety. Not that expensive either. Also, check your local nursery, they might have the seeds available there, too.

  2. Just like you, I am ambivalent about beets and don’t buy them often. The problem is that I can’t ever seem to find good beet greens (the greens are often torn and mushy or removed altogether). Your recipe looks awesome! Thanks for participating, Vee 🙂

    It been a pleasure being a part of your A-Z series, Nupur. It is very rare that I find beets with lush greens attached, too. Last week was a one off. Mostly, in these parts they sell the greens separately from the beets and that is such a big rip-off that I never buy them that way 😀

  3. Vee,

    Koddel looks yumm!!I simply loved all varities of koddel!!
    Will give it a try soon!!

    Thanks, Anu. I know koddels are delicious. Do you make koddel with greens? I know the one with chinese spinach (Vaali)

  4. Vee, this is a recipe I would defintely give a try, looks tasty.
    I make Sambhar with the beet greens and we all love the taste and like them better than Spinach. I don’t have beet problems, all of us love it. Grated beet cooked with onions and green chillies and mixed with yogurt. Tastes great.

    That sounds so much like Beet Koshimbir…is that what you were thinking of? I can eat it once in a while. How do you thicken the sambhar? DO you make them with only the greens or any other veggies? I have never had a sambhar with greens…If you love beets, you will love tambdi bhajji

  5. Hi Vee, here from One Hot Stove, the “L”. As someone who can rarely pass by the beets without bringing them home, I love this idea of bringing beets and greens together in the same pot, especially with the bright color. And Nupur’s already been encouraging me to try tamarind, so this gives extra reason to get some. BTW Amaranth is very easy to grow. I put a plant in some years ago, just because it’s so pretty, and it’s one of the few things that survived our big spring freeze last week.

    Welcome, Alanna. As I said before, this is a beet lovers paradise. 🙂 Do you grow the striped variety or the complete red?

  6. vee, i love beets(oh yes, i do;)as a kid i loved any “red” dish:) but its difficult to find beets with good greens. so i usually end up buying cooked beets which makes my life much easier.
    kodhel we make is little different from what u have here. with chilli and coconut we add coriander seeds+tiny bit of methi seeds+jeera.

    Sia, How does not finding good beet greens equate to buying cooked beets? 😆 Do you mean you do not find good beets at all? :o: The kodhel that you describe, we call it kothimbir-methi ghashi (Coriander seeds+Methi seed,no jeera), then there is Jeere-Meere ghashi (Cumin seeds +peppercorns). They are all finished with a drizzling of coconut oil. At my place (and my in-laws, too), kodhel is anything with a garlic phanna. I am intrigued by your description of kodhel. Wonder if it’s a regional variety. What do you use to make kodhel with?

  7. a new and different recipe for me. i have not experimented with beet root much.

    Reena, Welcome! that makes two of us. I don’t experiment with beets, either. The only two that I have on this blog are both tried and tested recipes from my childhood. I have been hearing quite a bit about a certain gulabi pulao that sounds intriguing , but my mind block where beets are concerned has tied me down 😀

  8. I am so stupid…I jumped to the recipe and was wondering why you are adding beetroot to tamdi bhajji dish. I almost asked that question…then thought of reading the intro :).

    I remember the tamdi bhajji that used to give bright red color. After going to B’lore I always tried to make the dish and it never used to get tamdo color :). Now you have given a nice alternative, thanks a lot.

    Shilpa, dear, we all know you are anything but stupid. 🙂 So, even you experienced the loss of tambdo-ness in India, did you? You can thank my mom for the alternative to the color. But, it is not just for the color, the beets taste pretty good with the coconut treatment, too 😀

  9. Mahek from Goa has posted the recipe for tambdi bhaji (or lal mathachi bhaji).This is exactly the way my mom made it. http://goanche.blogspot.com/2007/02/lal-mathache-bhaji.html

    BTW how does the beet greens taste? are they light spinach or hard like KALE?

    The way Mahek makes it is what we call Bhajje-upkari. Most of the times, we make it with garlic instead of onion. It is the same procedure that is followed for any greens-upkari. For the bitter greens, some jaggery is used to tone them down. Did your mom make anything else with these leaves?

    Beet greens taste more like swiss chard, I think. They are not as bland as spinach that you get here. They are definitely not like kale.

  10. Oh yes vee,

    We call it vali bendi!
    Wonder why its called bendi and not Koddel!!gotta a figure that out!!

    Here’s my guess depending upon how they were named and prepared growing up. A kodhel is a multi-starrer, always made with two or more ingredients. There is always the star ingredient and ther is the supporting cast of potatoes, Plantains, Indian yam, green Jackfruit etc. A Bendi on the other hand is one-Star show, there is the star ingredient enjoying all of that masol, all for himself. Both are finished with the garlic phanna, though. So, when we make vali bendi, there is only Vali in the masol, however, valli koddel might have suran, jackfruit, jackfruit seeds etc. to accompany it. phew!

  11. Hey Vee……you know what dish would look really good served with this? lol
    😆 see comment 7

    It’s really beautiful..interesting to learn about the kodhels too. I bought a bunch of red amaranth last summer and made it into Kashmiri haak…you can’t beat that colour can you? Whah! i’ve seen that coconut-tamarind-chile combo before…where was it? hmmm…i’m achieving some sort of concept here about Konkani cuisine…so, a vegetable cooked with masolu and finished with a garlic…phanna, it’s called? baghar, tadke…is called a kodhel? Don’t tell me that a vegetable cooked with masolu and finished with a mustard seed and curry leaf phanna is called a gashi? Am I on or off?

    Love Haak. As for the masol thing, [sigh] if only things were that simple. I am going to do a post on this explaining all the intricacies of the masol. Stay tuned. Besides, look at the comments, there are regional differences.

    I have a beet and yoghurt recipe from Lithuania that I’ll post in summer, but it has dill in it… i’ll offer an alternative to sway your ambivalence away from hatred.
    will wait for your recipe , pel

  12. Do you get beet with the greens? here i have never seen?
    thambdi bhaji looks similar to the gojju we make 🙂

    Here mostly we get the beets attached to the greens, but the greens are most often never in the condition to be used. Once in a while, though, I get lucky and find the greens that are beautiful, like I did last week. That gozzu sounds intriguing.

  13. lazy is a right word for buying cooked beet vee;)
    the kodhel recipe is from south canara(mangalorean) this is the way usually we make it at home. ghasi is bit different but has almost similar ingredients. our(mangalorean brahmin) kodhel is different from konkani cuisine vee. potato, pumpkin, bread fruit(jeegujje), raw jackfruit etc are used in making kodhel and adding raw onion while grinding is a kundapur style of making kodhel. we usually use garlic seasoning for huli menasina kodhel which calls for red chilles+tamarind+coconut(same recipe as u have here) and tondekai(tindora) and yellow cucumber is used for that.

    Oh, so any ‘curry’ with coconut is called a kodhel. Very enlightening. Is that tulu or kannada style of cooking that you are describing? Another ghashi we make is Methi +udid dal ghashi. Then there is a whole lot other things like a aambat, Humman etc. I think I really need to make a post on this.

  14. That would be so cool if you did do a post like that, your royal Vee-ness! [bows]. While we’re on the subject, do you add hing to your chane gashi?

    No hing to Chane Ghashi or any ghashi for that matter. We do make something called as ‘Humman’ which is again a Coconut+chillies+tamarind base with very high spice level (A ghashi is the most mild of them all) to which hing is added. t can be made with robust beans like the large dried Lima Beans or root veggies like Potato, taro etc. Sometimes quartered tomatoes are added to the humman which acts as a nice balance for the heat level. They are really best, though made with prawns/shrimps. Though the basic ingredients remain the same, the cooking style differs and which is what makes each thing taste different!

  15. it is tulu style of cooking and again it differs from one household to another. we usually saute grated coconut with little coconut oil for ghasi.
    it would be nice if u could post about these 🙂 coz now i am getting all confused 😉

    that would be the Soyi Bhajjille thing 😀

  16. and again not every curry with coconut is called kodhel 🙂 ground mixture of fried red chilli+coriander seeds+cumin+tamarind(sometimes methi seeds too) with fresh coconut is kodhel 🙂 ufff… i guess thats enough for now 😉

  17. thanks for the explanation Vee.
    I guess yo u are rite!
    I remember my mom used to prepare bajji bendi with kooka!Never really liked it then, but now I really miss it..:(

    Anu, you get the kooka frozen, called as Chinese potatoes here. I was never so fond of kooka mysslf but my mom made Kooks Song that I liked

  18. Hey Vee, thats a very new combi of beet and beet greens. I usually cook them separately. nice new recipe and great entry.

    Hi there, welcome! I would have cooked them separately , too if it wasn’t for my mom. Amazing isn’t? Beet Greens and Beets, yet you wouldn’t think of cooking them together. Kind of like Taro Leaves and Taro. Never seen cooked together!

  19. Hi Vee,
    Thank you so much for posting this. I picked up a bunch of beest with the greens on at wild oats market a couple of days ago, and was wondering what to make…this seems perfect! I truly appreciate your unique take, (or the unique take of konkani cuisine) on this vegetable.
    Keep cookine and blogging 🙂

  20. Hi Vee,
    Thanks for posting this. I came here from Nupur’s a-z veggies. I truly appreciate this unique konkani take on cooking these veggies…I picked up a bunch 2 days ago and was wondering what to do with it. This is great!! Thanks again, and best to you and yours…happy cooking and happier blogging!

  21. I apologise for the double comments, as you can see the first one went through accidentally…and didnt show up either…so posted the second one…now I’ve posted a third one to explain the first two…god help me!! 🙂 🙂

    Thats quite alright,Aa. I see you are not blogging as much. ?? try this with the beet greens, they are good!

  22. HI Vee, more like not blogging at all 😦
    My camera broke, and I’m in the middle of writing a thesis, so it doesnt make for a good combination blog-wise …!!
    I did try the recipe…I twaeked it a little bit with the addition of dhania-jeera powder. It was delicious to say the least. I have never been a big fan of beets, but I had this bhaji for both lunch and dinner, and finished the remains by mixing leftover cold rice into what was left in my pot and wiping everything clean for a midnight snack!! 🙂

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