Beetroot Thoran

Try this unique Kerala curry made with sautéed beetroot, coconut, chilies, and spices.

Recently I purchased cooked beets from Costco to make this Spinach and Beet Salad. Like most Costco foods, it came in a large amount!

Of course my kids are not fans, so I’ve been finding creative uses for them…the beets, not my kids.

Beets are definitely an acquired taste. I didn’t like them as a kid either, but they tasted delicious when my mom made them Kerala style—into a thoran.

It was sweet, salty, and spicy. I haven’t had her thoran in years, let alone any of her cooking. But recently I had a craving for some and decided to try my hand at her beetroot thoran.

How to Make Beetroot Thoran

Thoran is a simple dish made by first grinding together coconut, green chili, turmeric powder, and cumin. I usually skip this step because I don’t have a proper wet grinder. A mortar and pestle can also be used to grind the mixture into a paste.

Next, oil is heated in a pan where mustard seeds are added. These little seeds POP so keep a close eye on them. They also tend to burn quickly. They don’t need to be cooked long, about 30-60 seconds, until they start to sputter.

Then it’s time to add the red chili peppers followed by aromatics like onions, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves. These are sautéd until the onions cook down.

The coconut mixture is added next and heated for about a minute. Finally the beetroot is put in. I use cooked beets rather than raw. If using raw beetroot, see my “Notes” below.

This thoran is sweet, salty, and slightly spicy depending on how many chilies you use. In fact, the measurements below for the thoran are estimates. You can add more or less of some ingredients depending on your tastes.

As long as there’s a vegetable and some coconut, it will taste like a thoran and will be delicious! Enjoy it with rice and your other favorite curries.

Other thoran recipes:

Other uses for beets:

  • Pureed in crepes, pancake, or waffle batters.
  • Pureed in dumpling, pasta, or bread doughs.
  • Pureed in chapati, roti, naan, or flatbread doughs.
  • Pureed in your favorite hummus, chili, or soup recipes.
  • Pureed or grated in muffins, cupcakes, or cakes.
  • Grated in pasta, quinoa, couscous, or rice dishes.

Skillet with beetroot thoran and wooden spoon.

Beetroot Thoran

Joby’s Test Kitchen
A Kerala favorite, this thoran is made with beetroot, chilies, and coconut.
Prep Time 18 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4


  • small grinder or mortar and pestle


  • 3-6 tbsps fresh grated coconut or dry coconut soaked in water
  • 1-2 small green chilies minced
  • ¼-½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼-½ tsp cumin seeds or cumin powder
  • 2-3 tsps oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1-3 whole dry red chilies, or a big pinch of chili flakes
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 1-2 tsp minced ginger, optional
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves
  • 5-7 small-medium cooked beets, grated or thinly sliced
  • salt to taste


  • Grind together coconut, green chili, turmeric powder, and cumin until it forms a paste. Set aside. If you don't have a grinder, use a mortar and pestle, or a large knife to coarsely chop the mixture together.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, keeping a close eye on them because they burn quickly. After 30-60 seconds, they will start to sputter. Now add the red chilies followed by the onions, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves. Sauté for 5-8 minutes until the onions are cooked down.
  • Next add the coconut mixture and sauté for 30-60 seconds. Finally add the beetroot, and stir until it’s fully warmed through. Season with salt.


Coconut: My parents always used fresh coconut when making Kerala dishes. If you don’t have any, dried unsweetened coconut will also work. Make sure to soak it overnight in a little water.
Raw Beetroot: First wash and peel the beetroots. Then thickly grate, dice, or slice them. Add to the pan once the onion mixture has softened. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, cover, and cook until they become tender, adding more water as needed. Continue with the rest of the recipe.
Keyword beets, coconut, Kerala, thoran

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