Nature shows us how to take care of our bodies – our part is to pay attention. The augmenting nature of beets ground and nourish us, a needed change after the colder months of winter have passed.
Beets are sweet, grounding and they cleanse rakta dhatu, red blood cells. In this month’s recipe, we’ve combined beets with takra, or buttermilk, in a simple and delicious soup that gently cleanses and replenishes your body.
When we shared the recipe for another type of buttermilk soup, kambalika, we told you about the health benefits of cultured buttermilk. This is different from the buttermilk that you usually find in a store, which is often the by-product of making butter and lacks the probiotics of takra. We bought a starter culture years ago and have used it to make our own takra ever since. Our guests enjoy the way it gently brings balance to digestion through beneficial probiotics without as much sourness as yogurt or the excess heat of most fermented foods.
This soup contains all six rasa, or Ayurvedic tastes, making it a balanced meal for all doshas when enjoyed in moderation. As you eat this, move each spoonful around in your mouth for a few seconds to start the digestive process and see if you can identify all six rasa – pungent, sweet, astringent, sour, salty and bitter. Enjoying all six tastes in a meal can reduce cravings by giving you everything you need in one bite.
It’s easy to get creative with this recipe. You can substitute turnips, another grounding vegetable, or use any variety of beets (we used yellow, but the deep purple of red beets would add a lovely visual dimension). You can even sauté the beet greens in ghee and a bit of cumin to serve as the extractive vegetable to round out this meal. For a cooling summer variation, use coconut oil in place of the ghee and add shredded cucumber (peeled and seeded).
Beet and buttermilk soup
2 Tbsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp. fresh grated turmeric
1/2 tsp. mineral salt
3/4 tsp. fennel powder
1/4 tsp. fenugreek powder
Pinch of black pepper
4 cups chopped beets
2 cups water (less if you’d like your soup thicker)
2 cups buttermilk
Heat ghee on medium heat and add spices, cooking until the aroma comes up. Add beets and stir to coat. Simmer lightly for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the water to the beets, stir and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer until a knife easily goes into the beets. Remove from heat and let cool until slightly warm. Blend to your desired consistency. Add the buttermilk and serve warm.