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A fascinating story of the beet root soup, its origins in divided Germany, its travels through Poland and finally to India.
It was 1975. Two Indian friends were visiting a common German friend in East Berlin, then the capital of the German Democratic Republic. That German friend’s parents had years ago left their Nazi-occupied country and settled along the Polish-Ukraine border. She had found her way back to divided Germany. That evening she served them a pink, sour soup. It was something she’d learned from her mother.
It had enticed the taste buds of my father-in-law, one of the visitors, so much that he learnt the recipe from her. Making it several times during his stay in the country, he eventually forgot all about it when he returned to India in the early 1980s. That is, until recently, when the sight of saure sahne (sour cream), leftover from my mushroom soup experiment, brought back the unique flavour of the beetroot soup and he delighted us with blending it all together again.
The dish is a popular soup in Eastern Europe, finding its way into Poland and Germany, through people carrying stories and special recipes along as the settled in newer parts in the region, in the aftermath of the war. The elaborate version of this soup, with many vegetables and even meat, is referred to as borscht (in Russian) and by differing names as dialects change across borders. This is a red hot (or pink depending on how much sour cream you like in it) soup not only in its form but also in the debates surrounding its origin.
This dish has now traveled to me, sans borders and the limits that names and places often impose on people, traveled like all good things do, free as stories from life should be. And now I’m sharing it with you.
This recipe serves two.
1 big bulb (or 2 medium or 3 small) of Beetroot
200 gm Saure Sahne (Sour Cream)
2 tsp Butter
Salt to taste
Peel, wash and clean the beetroot bulb. Chop it into small pieces, preferably squares.
In a grinder mix the chopped beet root and sour cream to make a paste.
In a pan heat 2 tsp butter, add a little salt to taste, add the beetroot & sour cream paste.
Stir for a minute and add water according to the consistency you want.
Once boiled, cool it.
Add Black pepper as per taste and coriander as garnish.
Cover image via Eattrainlove
Manika is a textile and craft storyteller plus human sight-seer by day and mommy
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