I feel sad that children today are not able to savor our traditional beetroot relish as I did in my childhood. It was a delightful experience for the kids to relish the beautiful reddish-purple beetroot puree infused with delicious flavors of native fruits served in wedding feasts. Beetroot sweet pachadi, the most popular fruit dessert, was usually featured in every feast until few years ago. Nowadays vanilla ice cream with fruit salad takes precedence over this traditional fruit dessert.
There is a Sanskrit phrase, “Athithi Devo Bhava”, meaning guests to be treated at par with God, and hence it has been customarily followed by Hindus for over 1500 years by offering food to deities as well as guests on the sacred banana leaf. We still follow this unique tradition mainly in South India during festivals and other special occasions. Here I have tried to replicate the wedding feast featuring our traditional beetroot relish served to guests at my uncle’s wedding held when I was 5 years.
Although it is a fun & enjoyable experience to use banana leaf as a platter, there are significant benefits of using this leaf listed below:
The benefits of taking food on banana leaf:
Convenience: Banana leaves are mainly beneficial to serve food for a large gathering as there is no need to buy, wash, use and stack the huge number of plates. Also we can use a long leaf to serve a large variety of foods prepared for sumptuous repasts.
Eco-friendly: Cutting down these inedible banana leaves does not affect the yield of bananas, so they can be liberally used to pack/ serve food and also be disposed safely by using them as cattle feed. Hence banana leaves may be considered as the best alternatives for paper plates or plastic wraps.
Anti-oxidant property: These leaves contain large amount of polyphenols, the natural antioxidants found in green tea. The warm food served on banana leaves absorbs those polyphenols and it is considered as one of the effective ways of ingestion of anti-oxidants. These not only help to fight free radicals but also to have anti-aging effects on our skin. Banana leaves extracts are commercially used for the production of anti-wrinkle products.
Anti-bacterial property: It is not required to use any detergent to clean these leaves, as they are naturally clean and germs free. We can just wipe these leaves with little water.
Stimulates appetite: When hot food is placed on banana leaf, the wax on the surface melts and lends beautiful aroma to the food which in turn stimulates one’s appetite.
Water proof: These leaves don’t get soggy unlike paper plates because of the natural waxy coating. But it is not convenient for taking liquid foods.
Now let us look into the recipe for traditional beetroot relish:
Time taken: 10 min.
- Beetroot – 1
- Ghee – ½ tsp
- Jaggery or any sweetener of your choice – as desired
- Cardamom – 2 Nos.
- Banana (I used poovan pazham, a small variety of banana)
- Green grapes
- Peel and grate beetroot using grater.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in ghee.
- Microwave for 3-4 min. and allow it to cool down.
- Blend into puree.
- Heat a pan with jaggery & beetroot puree in low flame.
- When jaggery begins to melt away, increase the flame to medium.
- Stir for few min. until nicely coagulated.
- Add cardamom powder, mix well, simmer for 1-2 min and remove from fire.
- Store beetroot relish in a clean jar at room temperature.
How to serve Indian Beetroot Relish:
First we need to heat a pan with beetroot relish and add fruit chunks into the pan. Then simmer for few min. allowing to get infused with fruit flavors.