I conceived a potato and beetroot salad from my trip to Croatia!

Game of Thrones, Islands, Zinfandel, National Parks….. were the internet researched impressions I had on my mind when I planned my trip to Croatia in the summer of July’16. I also browsed about Croatian food and all I got was pictures of Octopus….. being a vegetarian my gourmet dreams broke : (

Many Croatian food plates later I must say “never trust internet entirely, experience your own”. Croatian cuisine is primarily around seafood but you will never fall short of tasting Croatian flavors on a veggie plate. I enjoyed my culinary experience in Croatia so much that it even inspired me to invent a potato and beetroot salad recipe.

The simplicity of Croatian cooking appealed to my culinary senses the most. Croatians mostly treat any piece of food meat, fish or veggies with just 3 ingredients – Olive oil, garlic and rosemary….. and they grill it. Like I said…. Simple but oozing flavors!

I will share a secret from my travel diaries with you. Whenever I go to a new country, I always check what kind of Indian restaurants it has. Why? Well not really to satisfy my Indian taste buds but to get a sense of how much people understand or like Indian cuisine in the country. It goes without saying that I scanned Croatia to find all the Indian food dens. Interestingly, Croatia has just a few (apparently not even a double digit) Indian restaurants and only 45 Indian residents including the people at the embassy).

In spite of this fact, it was surprising that people referenced to me about Indian food several times while eating at restaurants or talking to locals. Some Croatians shared their perspective openly about Croatian v/s Indian cooking with me…. “We Croatians like the food with simple flavors, not like your spicy curry”. Its a critical perspective but respectably shared by friendly Croatians.

Well, point well taken. I am also taking a bit of a challenge here, to create a recipe with Indian and Croatian taste notes. I defy myself to make it simple but volcanize the flavors, the Croatian way. Check out my next Dalmatian – Indian fusion recipe Potato and Beetroot salad. I call it the “Underground Brothers”. Sounds cool to me ; )))

Cumin Potato and Rosemary Beetroot Salad
Cumin Potato and Rosemary Beetroot Salad

The Indian brother in the Underground Brothers salad

For the brother Potato, I am drawing reference from an easy everyday Indian household recipe, to synchronize the simplicity of Croatian cooking. This simple Indian kitchen recipe is called Jeera Aloo or Cumin Potatoes, made with 3 classic Indian ingredients – Ghee (clarified butter), cumin seeds and crushed coriander seeds. To cook cumin potatoes is as simple as – boil, cut and toss potatoes in ghee, cumin, coriander and salt. Tada!

Trust me cumin potatoes are almost the domestic rival of French fries in Indian households. They are “comfort food”, “go with everything food” and even “kids meal” for Indians. I reckon I cant find a better Indian brother to plate with Croatian style cooked beets.

Cumin Potato for Potato and Beetroot Salad
Cumin Potato for Potato and Beetroot Salad

The Croatian brother in the Underground Brothers salad

For the brother Beetroot as well, I am going characteristic Croatian too. I observed a lot of beetroot usage in my veggie encounters in Croatia, like beetroot Risotto, beetroot grills and a beetroot patties too. So I am cooking this base with the classic Croatian ingredients trio – olive oil, garlic and rosemary. This combination augments the sweetness of beetroot with a little warmth from the olive oil, sharpness of garlic and freshness of the herb.

Beetroot tossed in rosemary
Beetroot tossed in rosemary

Bonding the 2 brothers together

Well I did not have to do a lot to bond the potatoes and beets. As I plate the 2 brothers, the beets automatically marooned the potatoes with their love. They looked like true blood brothers! However, I did add some pineapple chutney on top to add a tangy contrast to this duo. Finally a tiny load of feta cheese on top did wonders too. Try this recipe with beetroot, potato, coriander and rosemary staining each other pink, and pineapple chutney flowing from the top to pep this Croatian – Indian party!

Pineapple chutney for Potato Beetroot Salad
Pineapple chutney for Potato Beetroot Salad
Underground Brothers - Potato and Beetroot Salad
Underground Brothers – Potato and Beetroot Salad

Interesting health fact about Ghee!

Did you know Ghee originates from India?

I have used Ghee in this recipe to cook cumin potatoes. It’s a popular misconception that Ghee (clarified butter) is fatty. May be because its called butter… lol. However, you may be surprised that a sizeable portion of Ghee in your day to day cooking helps in may ways like strengthening bones, improves vision, improves digestion, helps with glowing skin and even supports weight loss. You may be surprised to know that in India Ghee is used for several remedial purposes, also as a key ingredient in post-partum nutrition and even in Ayurveda medicines. You may like to read about more benefits of Ghee.

Personally, while cooking with Ghee I have observed that I require a smaller quantity of Ghee (as compared to other oils) to cook something. Therefore, it’s a smart choice I have been making through years (including my 30 kgs weight loss phase).


Recipe by Shikha Singh

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Underground Brothers Yum
Underground brother is a very unique fusion salad inspired from Dalmatian and Indian cooking. The base of this salad is made with beetroots cooked in Croatian style and potatoes cooked with cumin in Indian style. Also in this recipe I have made a risqué attempt to fuse olive oil with ghee (clarified butter). Fresh rosemary and coriander are happily complementing each other on this plate. Star of this salad is the pineapple chutney dressing flowing from the top to pep this plate up!
Course Salad
Cuisine Dalmatian, Indian
Prep Time 25-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Dalmatian, Indian
Prep Time 25-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
For Dalmatian style beetroot
  1. Boil beetroot squares in water until semi soft and drain the water out. Healthier cooking method - Skin the beetroot, rub little olive oil and roast until tender. This is little time consuming but prevents loosing nutrients during boiling and draining.
  2. In a medium size pan, heat garlic olive oil or olive oil.
  3. Add beetroot squares and pan toss for 4-5 mins.
  4. Add rosemary, pan toss another 1-2 mins until semi-crisp.
  5. Let it cool a bit before serving.
For Indian Jeera Aloo
  1. Boil whole potato (in pressure cooker or pan) until tender and cut into squares. Healthier cooking method - Skin the potato, cut into squares, cook in boiling in water until tender and drain excess water. With this method you will drain the large amount of sugar from the potatoes.
  2. In a medium size pan, heat ghee (clarified butter).
  3. Add cumin seeds and wait until they become brown.
  4. Add potato squares and pan toss until they start getting a brown outside crust.
  5. Add coriander leaves and toss another minute.
  6. Let it cool a bit before serving.
For Pineapple chutney dressing
  1. In a small pan, heat oil, add green chili, onion, garlic and peppers, sauté until light brown.
  2. Add, pineapple pulp, cook until mixture starts drying.
  3. Turn the heat off when you get a dark yellow/ brownish salsa. Refrigerate the Pineapple chutney for a while. Optional - If you like a creamier texture to your salad dressing, then you can add a table spoon of Greek yogurt to the Pineapple chutney.
  1. In a round serving dish, spread a layer of potatoes around the rim of the dish.
  2. Heap the beetroot, inside the potato rim.
  3. Pour pineapple chutney dressing on the top. Load feta cheese on top of the heap.
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