We’re all about hearty bowls of food — plates are overrated, anyway. Join James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Rachel Yang as she dives into this most useful piece of servingware and shows you how to keep it fresh. These yellow curry pickled beets are a colorful way to make sure everyone gets their veggies.
You know pickled beets. But at Joule, our hope is to take a dish you think you know and do something unexpected. This unusual version — curried and pickled yellow beets, paired with kalamata olives and Mission figs — is a longtime favorite. Because both turmeric and beets have a distinct earthiness to them, they’re a natural match, especially combined with the saltiness of the olives and the sweetness of the figs. Topped with a pistachio-studded oil touched with heat, each bite is novel but perfectly balanced.
At Joule, we plate these pickles as banchan, garnished with cilantro and a sprinkling of chunky sea salt. If you want something a little fancier, you could slice the beets very thinly with a mandolin and simply pour the pickling liquid over them to soften them, instead of letting them cook in the liquid.
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
- 3 4-ounce yellow beets, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices, then quartered
- 10 dried Mission figs, stems removed and halved
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
- 2 small Chinese dried chilies, stems removed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the pickling liquid
In a 2-quart pot, stir together the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar and salt dissolve, then reduce to a simmer.
For the beets
In a small bowl, stir together the curry powder, turmeric, and cumin. Add the spice blend and the beets to the pickling liquid, and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the beets are softer but still have some bite to them. (Remember that the beets will continue cooking in the hot liquid, and you want them to still have some crunch at the end.)
Put the figs and olives into a medium nonreactive container. When the beets are ready, add the beets and their liquid to the container. Let cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour.
For the oil
While the beets cool, combine the pistachios, chilies, and salt in a ziplock bag. Using a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pan, crush the mixture until the chilies are well pulverized and all the pistachios are crushed into roughly quarters or smaller. (Some chilies won’t break up as easily; it’s fine to keep some pieces larger and just pick them out before serving.)
In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, until a larger piece of pistachio sizzles when you add it to the oil. Carefully pour the crushed pistachio mixture into the oil, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature.
For the serving
To serve, divide the beet mixture between four or more small plates. Stir the pistachio oil to blend, then top the beets with a few spoonfuls of pistachios each, being generous with the oil as well. Store the pickles and the pistachio oil separately in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 weeks.