There is nothing quite like a casserole or hot pot to warm you on cold winter nights. In Persia (Iran), a khoresht is a casserole and usually contains beef, but I have found it is beautiful simply made with vegetables. Carrots are regularly used, as are plums and even quinces, so feel free to strike out with other vegetables besides beetroot. A delicious vegetarian meal on it’s own or a perfect accompaniment to roasted meat.
• 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) rice bran oil
• 1 large brown onion, chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• a pinch of saffron threads
• ½ cinnamon stick, broken
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 4 green cardamom pods, crushed
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
• 1 cm (½ inch) knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 2 hot red chillies, chopped
• 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) chunks
• 3 medium–large beetroot (beets), peeled and cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) chunks
• 60 g (¼ cup) dried yellow split peas
• 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the rice bran oil over medium–high heat until nearly smoking. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
Add the spices and tomato paste and stir for 2–3 minutes.
Stir in the ginger, chilli, carrot and beetroot and add enough water to cover the vegetables by about 3 cm (1¼ inches).
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the beetroot is tender.
Add the split peas and give the mixture a gentle stir, then cook together at a rapid simmer for 5 minutes.
Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium–low heat for 10 minutes, or until the gravy is thick, stirring in a little more water if required.
Just before serving, stir in the pomegranate molasses and season to taste with salt.
Serve with rice for a vegetarian meal OR serve with roast lamb or chicken.