Autumn is such a beautiful time of year. The mornings surprise you with their icy presence, the tips of the trees are starting to turn golden, and the fruit trees in the neighbours’ gardens are exploding with a bounty of ripe goods. Soup season has well and truly arrived. While the jumpers have begun to reconquer their place in the cupboard, our daily tea consumption has doubled. Root vegetables are waving to us warmly at the supermarket as we gently bundle them up and take them home to create a dish of filling comfort.
Growing up in Bern, soup was an ever-popular staple over the colder months. At my dad’s we had a recurring list of menus to which we’d fall back on, including my stepmum’s legendary Bircher Müesli, Gschweuti, which is basically boiled potatoes served with a selection of toppings, apple tart, and at the time my little sister’s favourite, Riz Casimir, rice served with tinned fruit and tofu in a mild curry sauce. Another favourite, but slightly more rare guest on our dinner table, was borscht. I loved the almost ceremonial way the sour cream was dolloped onto the steaming burgundy soup, how you had to give it a good scattering of chopped dill fronds before gently scooping it up with a spoon, all the while trying not to disturb the stunning contrast of the beautiful colours.
So there I was the other day, daydreaming about finger food (yet again), when I thought about how swell it would be if I took those earthy cold-weathery borscht components and jazzed them up into a suave little nibble. Bring on that beetroot.
These babies are best assembled shortly before entering your mouth, so I suggest you spread all the ingredients out on a table and let everyone construct their little poppadum parcels themselves.
adapted from notquitenigella
1 medium sized beetroot
½ tsp black mustard seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 allspice berry (dried)
pinch chili flakes
½ tsp salt
3/8 cups raw sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
A few hours before you want to make this nibble, start with roasting the beetroot. Do this by preheating the oven to 180°C, wrapping the beet tightly in tin foil, and letting it roast for a few hours. It will be done when you can easily slide a knife into it. Remove from the oven and cool.
When ready to make the relish, peel and grate the beetroot on the large holed – side of a box grater and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the mustard seeds until they begin to pop. Add the olive oil and onion, and cook until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and let them bubble away until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Make sure you stir it occasionally so it doesn’t catch. Once it’s done, remove from the heat and transfer to a jar. Let it cool down before you serve it. Why? Because the poppadums soften a lot quicker with heat, and we don’t want that.
Any leftover relish will keep in your fridge for at least a week.
1 packet small poppadums
200 ml sour cream (use light, full-fat or even Greek yoghurt. Just none of that non-fat stuff.)
1 bunch dill, leaves picked and finely chopped
Pop the poppadums in the microwave ( 30 sec – 1 min on high). Stir up the sour cream and mix it with the dill. Get your relish out. Once you’re ready to assemble and immediately eat these cuties, grab a poppadum, top it with some relish and some dill sour cream. Crunch. Repeat.