Apparently, beets are grown in the mountains of Sri Lanka. If you don’t have curry leaves, you can substitute 4 bay leaves, taking them out before serving; or you can add 2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh, chopped cilantro near the end.
3 to 4 medium beets, washed
1-1/2 T sesame or vegetable oil
8 fresh or frozen curry leaves, or 4 bay leaves, divided
2 T minced, seeded fresh green chiles, such as jalapeno or cayenne
2 to 3 T minced shallot, or a minced onion/garlic combination
1 T rice vinegar
1 t salt
3/4 t sugar
1/2 c coconut milk, divided
1/4 c water
chopped fresh cilantro, if needed, (see headnote), plus extra for garnish
1. Peel beets, if you like. Cut them into thin slices, then cut into thin strips, about 1/4-inch wide. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy pot with a lid over medium heat. Add 4 of the curry leaves, or 2 of the bay leaves, the minced chiles, and the shallots. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beets and stir, then add the vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir to mix well. Raise the heat some and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Mix half of the coconut milk with the water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. Stir well, then cover tightly, reduce heat and cook at a strong simmer until the beets are just tender, 15 minutes or so. Check the liquid level about half-way through and add a bit more water if the pot is almost dry.
4. When the beets are cooked to your liking, add the remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk and remaining curry or bay leaves. If you’re substituting cilantro for the curry leaves, add it now. Bring back to a boil and simmer for a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.