Don’t talk to Kathryn Elliot about good, bad or super food. She’s no dietary zealot; she’s a nutritionist and freelance writer with a pragmatic approach. She blogs at Limes and Lycopene and co-authors An Honest Kitchen. She supports everyday people who are struggling to eat well.
Describe your dish
I’ve been making this Beetroot Curry for years and years. Originally the recipe came from a Madhur Jaffrey book, although over time I’ve tweaked and changed it slightly. I absolutely love this dish. It’s simple, doesn’t use a lot of ingredients and even sounds a bit odd, yet it’s utterly, utterly delicious.
How does your dish portray your relationship with food?
As any reader of my blog will know, I love vegetables. They are the food group which really excites me. Personally I love eating them, plus I’m continually challenged and intrigued by the variety of ways you can use them. However, more than that, I’m a nutritionist, so given most people don’t eat enough vegies and they’re fundamental for good health, promoting vegetables is a major part of what I do.
Plus I’m a bit of a beetroot fiend and have, over the years, been accused of being obsessed by it.
What inspired your food behaviour?
This is a dish I started making when I first started getting serious about cooking. Up until that point I’d been a good cook, but not very imaginative or ambitious in what I made. However Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking, the book where I first saw this recipe, changed that. I was simply entranced by her food. I found the recipes easy to follow and yet still baffling. They used ingredients I’d never heard of, or used common ingredients in combinations I’d never imagined possible.
This beetroot curry is a perfect example. Before making this I’d only ever had tinned beetroot, but this recipe taught me how utterly different fresh vegetables can be. Beetroot could be sweetened, pickled and sold in a can, but it could also be paired with tomatoes and spices and turned into a curry.
This lesson, about how one food can taste wildly different, when cooked in different ways, has stayed with me and informs every day of my working life. It makes me question what I do when I cook and write recipes. It makes me look for easier ways of adding flavour, new combinations that might (or might not) work. It informs how I work with clients, how I talk about food and how I cook. It’s changed my attitude to food and the way that I, and those around me, eat.
This recipe also has vegetables front and centre. They’re not the after-thought, or bit that’s been added on because they should be there. My Beetroot Curry is all about the vegetablewhich pretty much encompasses how I approach cooking, writing and recipe development.
What do you wish for the future of food?
My hopes for the immediate future are quite modest. Food takes up a huge part of my life, I love cooking, and questions of ethics and eating in season are things I grapple with every day. However, more generally I would wish that there was a growth in the enjoyment of cooking. For so many it is a chore, just another thing that has to be done each day and while food can be a priority, cooking often isn’t. For these I would wish a greater degree of comfort with and confidence in cooking.
If you’d like to tell your food story, hit me up @flavourcrusader or email me at info AT flavourcrusader DOT com