Jan 31, 2013

Cucumber-Paneer Cups

A few months back, I tried to shift from "three big meals a day", a more healthy "small meals more often". For someone who doesn't particularly like spending time in the kitchen, the mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals were initially a bit of a challenge, but that was only till I discovered soups and salads! 
This particular dish is adapted from one I first saw in Runner Girl in the Kitchen. I had been intending to make Cucumber-Paneer Cups her way, but on that particular day, I craved something sweet, and this experiment was unexpectedly successful.

Crumble 100 gms paneer, sprinkle 1 tps ground cinnamon, add 2 tbsp honey, and mix well.
Wash 2 cucumbers, cut into two/ three/ four pieces each (depending on how big you want each cup to be), and remove the seeds using the back of a spoon.
Stuff the core with the paneer, and enjoy.

This is not exactly *sweet*, but the predominant taste is of honey and cinnamon, and you know you are eating a lot of goodness.

Cauliflower in tomato gravy

The Bengali Cauliflower Dalna. One of the easiest recipes around.

Fry 1 onions chopped fine, 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste, with 1 tsp each zeera and dhania powder till the raw smell goes. Add 2 medium tomatoes chopped fine, and 1 tsp each red-chilli and haldi powder,and fry it gets slightly mushy.
Add cauliflower florets (1 medium sized cauliflower)*, toss it around a bit. Add about 1 cup of water, bring to boil, lower flame, cover and allow to cook in it's own steam for 10 minutes (or till done).
You can also add peas, if you like, but I don't add potatoes.

* at this stage, my mother adds 1 tsp garam masala, but I don't because the kids don't like it "spicy" (uttered with a crinkly nose).

Strawberry with chocolate ganache

I love strawberries. I love chocolates. Add them together, and I absolutely love strawberries dipped in chocolate ganache.

1 bar chocolate broken into pieces
3 tbsp cream

Heat the cream, pour it over the chocolate pieces and stir till the chocolate dissolves. You can use any chocolate you like- I used CDM, because it was available.
Wash the strawberries, dry them with a tissue, dip the tip in the chocolate ganache and refrigerate so it sets.

Jan 30, 2013

Carrot-cucumber cold soup

I had a cucumber that was ready to die on me, and a whole bunch of carrots that were no longer suitable either for putting into a curry, or for making gajar-ka-halwa with. Google to the rescue- before I knew it, I had a bunch of carrot-cucumber soup recipes to mix 'n' match with. Perfect for a day when the weather seems to be turning to warm.

Serves 1 potion:
Chop 1 medium carrot, and 1 medium cucumber, and blend both together with 3 tbsp sour curds, salt, pepper and parsley, till smooth. Dilute with water, if required.
Serve cold garnished with fresh parsley (I used dried parsley).

Lentil Soup

Soups are another current addiction. I like them hot, I like them cold. I like them in all colours of the rainbow (though I am partial to green and red/ orange). This is my take on the classic French Lentil Soup.

Fry 1 medium onion (chopped fine), 1 medium carrot (diced) and 1 large bay leaf, in a tsp of butter till the onions turn transparent. Add 1 measure red lentils, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 tsp red chilli powder, and cook for 30 minutes, till the lentils turn soft (or you can pressure cook it- I didn't).
Add tamarind pulp (recipe called for lemon juice, but I went with gut), remove the bay leaf, and blend till smooth.
Add salt to taste. Crumble some paneer and garnish with paneer before serving.

Jan 28, 2013

Moong-paneer-fruit salad

This is a salad I make often- with strawberries when they are in season, or with pomegranate seeds, or even with apples (I normally stick to these three fruits, because I like the pops of red colour against the green and white background). This is one of my favourite mid-day snacks, most so because it is so protein rich.

Mix sprouted Moong, small pieces of paneer, and strawberries cut into small pieces.
Drizzle with garlic-mint-vinegar*, sprinkle salt and toss.

* garlic-mint-vinegar was something I discovered accidentally when I found a few sprigs of mint drying in the fridge which I was reluctant to throw away. I pounded it with a green chillis and a couple of pods of garlic and infused it in vinegar. The vinegar takes on the flavours and is a great dressing.

Jan 25, 2013

Malai Kofta in Spinach Gravy

Though my family is not too fond of spinach, when I saw this recipe from MM's Kitchen Bites, I knew I had to try it out. It is fiddly to make, and I wasn't sure if anyone apart from me would consume it or not, but it did come out really well, and I should make it again.


For the koftas: (makes about 6- 8 koftas)
Potato, boiled and grated, 150 gm
Paneer/Cottage Cheese, grated/crumbled, 100 gm
Onion, chopped, 1 medium
Corn flour, 1 heaped tbsp
Coriander leaves, finely chopped, 1 tbsp
Green chilies, finely chopped, 2-3
Salt, to taste
Red Chili powder, 1 tsp
Aamchur/Dried Mango Powder, ½ tsp
Garam Masala Powder, ½ tsp
Roasted Cumin powder, ½ tsp
Oil for deep frying

For the spinach:
Spinach, 1 big bunch
Onion, finely chopped, 1
Coconut Milk, about a cup ( or regular milk)
Garlic, finely chopped, 4-5 cloves
Red chili powder, ½ tsp
Salt, to taste
Oil, 1 tbsp

Mix/ Mash everything listed under the koftas thoroughly (except the oil!! ). Pinch out a little and roll it into balls. Deep fry the balls in hot oil. Keep the flame low and fry for few minutes till they turn into golden brown color.
Place them on kitchen tissues to remove excess oil.

Wash and chop spinach finely. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and fry the spinach by adding a pinch of sugar to it. This will help maintain the color of spinach. Sprinkle water if necessary. Close the pan with a lid and cook for few minutes. Once it becomes soft, remove from the pan and keep aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan,. Add the onions and garlic. Once they turn golden brown add the spinach, salt and chili powder. Sauté for 5-10 minutes. Lower the flame and add the coconut milk slowly stirring it continuously. Now let it boil till it becomes thick and creamy.

Add the koftas just before serving the curry.

Coconut milk is a sweet compared to regular milk, so do check for seasoning before serving.

If you want smoother gravy, wash, blanch, puree the spinach and then add to the fried onion mix.

Jan 24, 2013

Carrot-apple smoothie

In my quest for post-run proteins, I end up making a whole bunch of smoothies. This I adapted from a recipe for juice, and liked it so much, I've made it three times already these last two weeks.

Blend 1 apple (peeled, and chopped into small pieces after removing the core), 1 medium carrot (the maroon one, peeled and diced), an inch piece of ginger grated, and 1/2 cup milk, till smooth.
Vitamin A, calcium and proteins in a cup.

Dahi kofta

This recipe was adapted from one by Namita. Though the entire process was quite mess to say the least, the dish tasted really good, which is why I am putting it here.

Coarsely fry 1/2 cup of peas with 1 green chilli. Fry the peas with ginger garlic paste and salt for a few minutes till the rawness goes, and keep aside.
Mash 2 boiled sweet potatoes, and mix it with 2 tbsp cornflour, 2 tbsp crumbled paneer, and salt to taste. Knead well to make a dough.
Apply a little oil on your palms and take a small dough ball, flatten it and then shape it like a cup. Put 1 tsp of the stuffing inside the covering and close it slowly to make an even ball. Put the balls in the oil for deep frying. The oil should not be too hot or the balls will stick to the bottom of the kadhai. Slowly fry in a batch of 3-4 on a medium flame to make golden brown from all sides. [This is the theory, reality was quite different.] Drain the oil, and keep aside.

Beat curds (as much as you need) with a fork till smooth. Add salt, dhania pwd, red chilli pwd to taste and mix well.
Put the koftas in the dahi gravy and serve.

Jan 23, 2013

Gajar ka halwa

Gajar Halwa has always been one of my favourite sweets. Every winter, my mother would wait for those maroon carrots to come to the market, so she could make gajar halwa. I don't know what quantity she made it in, but I do remember that in winters, there was always gajar halwa for lunch, and dinner, and inbetween.

Hubby being a proper Punjabi prefers gajar halwa with mawa and ghee, but this is the version I prefer to make, because it is also so healthy.

This was the gajar halwa I made to celebrate 15 years of marriage.

4 cup grated carrots
4 cup whole cream milk
1 cup sugar
cardamon powder
dry fruits for garnish

Grate carrots. Measure the volume. Keep aside.
In a non-stick kadhai, head the same volume of milk as you have grated carrots. When the milk comes to a boil, reduce the flame, add the grated carrots and cook (with constant stirring) till the milk thickens.
When almost done, add sugar as per taste (for 4 cups of carrots, I added 1 cup of sugar), powdered cardamon, and a little bit of ghee, stir well, and keep cooking till most of the milk evaporates.
Can be had hot or cold.

Jan 20, 2013

Pesto sandwich

Ever since I discovered cooking, I've made some lovely stuff that I might otherwise not have tried. But, sometimes, it is good to get something for little or no effort. This pesto sandwich was one of those immensely satisfying meals, which required no cooking at all.

Spread pesto liberally on a slice of bread (I used store bought, because it tastes better than anything I am likely to make), place tomato slices, grate mozzarella cheese and grill.

Jan 18, 2013

Rajasthani haldi-ki-sabji

Haldi is good for a cold, they said. And I went and bought 100 gms of it. Knew I couldn't consume that much, so asked google for help. What emerged was tasty, and nutritious, and tasted pretty good with rotis. But, and it is a big BUT (but, I said, not butt, though that too is big), it was all of that only all that when you knew you had to have it for the goodness. I am sure I will never make it because I "want to" have it, but when I "need to", it's something I will definitely turn to.

[Proportions are approximate, because the recipes were all for 250 gms, and I reduced everything my way.]

Peel and grate 100 gms raw haldi (better still get someone to do it for you). Keep aside.
Mix 1 tsp each of red chilli powder and dhania in about 3 tbsp curds, and salt to taste. Keep aside.
Shell about 15-20 peas, fry in ghee and keep aside.
Add a little more ghee, a pinch of hing, jeera, red chillies and fry till done.
Add grated haldi (and a bit more ghee if required), and fry till it starts turning brown (do a taste test to check that it is not bitter).
Add curds, and cook till the gravy thickens.
Add peas, turn off the fire, cover and let it cook in its own steam for a few minutes.

Serve with rotis.

Jan 17, 2013

Strawberry chutney

It is strawberry season in Bombay, and I have been picking up half a kilo of the luscious fruit almost every other day. The kids can't have enough of it, but no matter how carefully you pick them (and I am not too careful on the best of days), you always end up with a few that are so squashed that even the kids refuse to have them. This was something I invented to use up those squashy strawberries, and it worked out much better than I expected.

Roughly pound 1 tsp jeera
Grate an inch piece of ginger, squeeze the juice and keep the grated pieces aside
Fry 1 red chilli, jeera and grated ginger in about 1 tsp oilve oil till jeera starts changing colour.
Keeping the flame very low, add 8-10 strawberries cut into quarters.
Add 1 tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp salt, and the leaves from 3 sprigs of mint. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the ginger juice and the juice of 1/2 lemon, cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Adjust salt, chilli, if required. It is NOT sweet at all, but if you want it to be, you can add sugar.

Mixed veg Korambu

For some strange reason, my mother would only make this on Sankranti, to be eaten with Shakarai Pongal. The best part was the leftovers- she'd thicken them the next day, and it tasted even better than they did when fresh.

Soak half cup tur dal overnight, cook it and mash till soft.
Cook the veggies you want in tamarind water (1 cup water, and tamarind the size between a marble and a lime- discard the tamarind after taking out the pulp), with haldi and salt. Different veggies take different time to cook, so put them in the correct order so all get fully cooked at the same time.

Dry roast the following, and grind it into a masala-
6 red chillies
1 ½ tsp dhania
1 tsp chana dal
2 tbsp grated coconut

Add masala to the dal, and cook for two boils.

Add the veggies and bring to boil once.

Temper with -
½ tsp methi
2 red chillies
Curry patta

The korambu is meant to be thicker than the normal sambhar, and tastes best with shakarai pongal (sweet pongal). Can also be had with dosas and idlis, but not so good with rice.

Jan 16, 2013

Shakarai Pongal

Shakarai Pongal is made in all Tamil Brahmin houses on Pongal/ Sankranti, and it is a perennial favourite with kids and adults alike. I've tried making it once before, but this was the first time I came out okay- though it can be much better.


2 measures rice
3/4 measures dhuli moong dal
6 measures milk+water, with slightly more water than milk
3 measures jaggery
cardamon powder
dry fruits for ganishing

Roast the moong dal till it turns brown. Cook the roasted dal, the rice and the milk+water till the rice becomes really soft. I know a lot of people pride themselves on "every dana standing out", but that is not how pongal is supposed to be- pongal is supposed to be mushy.

Stir in 3 parts of gur (I used only 2, because we don't like it very sweet), and ghee, and cook the mixture with constant stirring till it turns brown. The brown colour is also dependent on the gur, so even if the colour is not brown (mine wasn't), you still know when it is done, because of the "cooked" smell.

Stir in powdered cardamon, and cashew and kishmish fried in ghee.

Serve HOT.

You can cook the rice and dal it in a pressure cooker, but it is supposed to be made in an open pot/ kadhai, and I feel that is more sensible, because this way you know exactly when it is done.

Jan 15, 2013

Moong-Oats Toast

I make this often for the kids when they come home from school. Have been meaning to take a picture for a very long time, but since that doesn't seem to be happening, I took this using the phone today. Might replace it with a better picture sometime- or not.

Soak 1/2 cup oats for half an hour, drain, keep aside
Grind the soaked oats and 1/2 cup sprouted moong dal with 2 tbsp curds and salt to taste, till it attains a smooth consistency.
Spread the mixture one side of the bread.
Place the open sandwich, topping side down, on a greased frying pan, and cook till it turns brown.
Turn over and brown the other side.
Cut into triangles and serve.
Good with ketchup and sliced olives.

Oats upma

I've never been a great fan of oats, but you can't deny it's health benefits, which is why I like to experiment with it, hoping something nice turns up. This definitely was nice, but not as nice as a regular upma.

Roast 1/2 cup oats till the raw smell goes (but before it starts browning).
Heat 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, add mustard seeds, and when it starts spluttering add an inch piece of ginger cut fine. After about 30 seconds add 1 medium onion copped fine (I had spring onions, so used that), and when it starts turning transparent, add 1/2 capsicum chopped fine and a few cashewnuts. Saute till the capsicum looks done.
Add 3/4 cups water, and bring to boil. Add roasted oats, and 2 tbsp curds, and cook on low heat till the oats are well cooked.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve piping hot (I didn't because I am saving the few that I have for the evening dal).

Normally, I squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon for the khatta, but wanted a change and substituted curds instead. Tasted good, but was slightly mushier than I would have liked.

Jan 13, 2013

Moong pakodi ki subji

Saw this recipe in an article on pulses in Economic Times, and had to try it out. Hubby finished almost all of it off (except the bit that I had put in the dish to take a picture), which says it all.

 Soak moong dal overnight, drain out water and grind into a rough paste (I used sprouted moong, because that was available).
Make pakodis by putting blobs into hot oil using a spoon. Fry till crisp. Keep aside
Heat 1 tsp oil in kadhai. Put a pinch of hing, dhania powder, red chilli powder and haldi powder. When the raw smell goes, add water. Once the water starts boiling, reduce the flame, add the pakodas, and bring to boil.
I served it with dosas, but rotis are recommended.

Madam Pomfrey's Magic Potion

I have the Marathon coming up next weekend, and I have a horrible cold. If I want to be sure of gettinr rid of it, I should be on antibiotics, but if I get on them, I can say goodbye to recovering before the race. So I'm overdosing on Madam Pomfrey's magic potion, and hoping the cold will go away.

Take 2 cups of water.
Add a 2 inch piece of ginger roughly sliced, 8-10 peppercorns, 6 cloves, and bring to boil. Lower heat, and let it simmer till the volume becomes half.
Have it hot, but not boiling hot.
Add 1 tsp honey, for taste, if required.

Jan 11, 2013

Strawberry-orange juice

It's different!

Infuse 1 inch piece of ginger (cut into small pieces) and 2 cloves in a glass of orange juice for about 1 hour.
Remove ginger and cloves, and blend orange juice with 6 strawberries till smooth.
Makes almost 1 1/2 glasses of juice, so adjust proportions according to how much you need.

If you want it sweet, you'll have to add extra sugar (the sugar from the orange juice was enough for me).

Jan 10, 2013

Zucchini bread

I have been intending to make a carrot cake for the longest time, but ended up making a zucchini bread instead.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup coarsely-grated zucchini
1 tablespoon dry basil (recipe called for 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh basil)

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the pepper; set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar; beat in the egg and the buttermilk (beating until the mixture is combined well). Stir in the grated zucchini and the basil. Add the prepared flour mixture to the zucchini mixture, stirring the batter until it is just combined.
Spoon mixture into a greased bake tin, and bake in microwave for 5 minutes (or at 400F for 10-15 mins).
Let it cool.
Recipe called for a cream-cheese based frosting, but I cheated and spread cheese spread instead *face palms*
Goes really, really well with raw baby-radishes.

Jan 8, 2013

Creamed corn

Many years ago, when I was hosting a party for my father-in-law, I made a creamy corn salad using tinned corn. It tasted amazing and was the only dish that was completely polished off by the guests. Unfortunately, however, I haven't been able to replicate that success, since most of the goodness came out of the can itself.
This dish is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, and comes close to what the original dish was like.

Take 100 gms American corn (basically, two packets sold by the subjiwala). Keep 3/4th aside, and roughly grind the rest in a mortar till it forms a rough paste.
Fry 6 spring onions (only the onion part, chopped fine) in 1 tbsp butter till soft.
When it turns transparent, add the whole corn, the ground corn, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 10 mins.
Add 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 cup cream and cook on low heat till the cream thickens.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Jan 7, 2013

Saboot Masoor Dal

The saga began when the grocer sent me saboot masoor instead of the saboot moong that I asked for. I'd grown up believing the only way to cook this dal was by frying it to death, then burying it in gravy, and I contemplated a long, lonely, unloved existence for the dal.
Then Aalok posted a photograph of IFF, and told me it was one of the most forgiving of dals. And Bindu Pandit added her inputs. And therein lies the start of a new love affair.

 Dry roast saboot masoor dal. Wash it well, then pressure cook with haldi, hing, amchur powder and salt till tender (one whistle, 15 mins on lower flame worked for me).
Add a tadka of zeera and red chillies. Add salt and about 1 tbsp kasoori methi, and bring to boil.
That's it!

Same dish, cooked on March 26, 2014. Literally fingerlickingly good!

Tiranga idlis

Strictly speaking, it is presentation, not a recipe. But it came out better than expected, so posting it here. Till last night, I couldn't decide whether to hide carrots or spinach in the idlis I was going to make for the kids when they got back from school, till I decided I could try to combine both. And while they cannot be mistaken for flags by any stretch of imagination, the tiranga idlis did come out better than I thought they would.

Idli batter made the normal way.
Grate 1 carrot into 3/4 cup batter.
Puree about 6 leaves of spinach, and mix with 3/4 cup batter.
Grease idli pan, then pour one blob of orange, one blob of green and one blog of ordinary batter into each mould, and tilt so it forms the desired shapes.
Steam for 10 mins. Allow to cool before taking out.

Cucumber-radish soup

This is a warm soup, in keeping with the temperature in the city.

Saute 1 medium onion (chopped fine) in a tbsp olive oil
Add 1/2 capsicum (chopped fine), and fry till it starts getting mushy
Add 2 medium cucumbers (chopped), and 2 small red radishes
Stir for a couple of mins, then add 1 cup chicken/ veg stock (I ran out so added plain old water), cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
When it cools down, pour into a mixer and blend till smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot.

Cold Cucumber Soup

This calls itself a cold soup, but sounds exactly like a smoothie to me (and all the photographs even had it in glass not a soup bowl). What's in a name, as long as it tastes great? And it did. Recipe adapted for several similar.

Cut 1 large cucumber into small pieces. Peel 4-5 cloves of ginger. Blend the cucumber and garlic with 1/2 cup low fat yogurt, salt and freshly ground pepper till smooth. Add water to dilute, if desired (I didn't).
Garnish with small pieces of radish. Serve chilled.

Jan 5, 2013

Aloo Dum

The Punjabi version of Aloo Dum. Regardless of ingredients, the dish tastes just as wonderful!

Boil and peel 350 gms baby potatoes and keep aside.
Saute 2 medium onions cut fine till transparent
Add 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tsp dhania pwd, 2 tsp zeera pwd, 2 tsp kashmiri mirch pwd, 2 tsp garam masala pwd, and fry on low heat till the oil starts leaving the masala.
Cool, and blend till smooth.
Lightly fry baby potatoes, add the masala, and 1/4 cup curds beaten smooth. Cook on low flame for 5 minutes.
Add salt to taste.

Strawberry-banana smoothie

This strawberry-banana smoothie is a perfect post-workout drink, and it works really well as a complete mid-day meal too.

Blend 1 banana, 6 strawberries, 1 cup milk till smooth. Slurp.

Jan 4, 2013

Beetroot rice

This recipe is one that MM's Kitchen Bites has invented. She makes it with raw rice. Mine is not quite the real thing, because I make it with leftover rice, but the recipe remains the same.

Basmati rice, washed and soaked for half an hour, 1 cup
Beetroot, grated, 1 medium
Onions, thinly sliced, 2 medium
Green chilies, diagonally cut, most of the seeds removed, 3
Ginger, paste, 1 tsp
Garlic, paste, 1 tsp
Green cardamom,2-3
Cinnamon, abt an inch
Black peppercorns, 4-5
Bay leaf,2
Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
Red Chili powder, 1 tsp
Coriander powder, 1 tsp
Salt, to taste
Water, 2 cups ( I know double the water is standard but we do it till about 1 ½ cms above the level of rice+ veggies, called “ek pota” in Punjabi – so do whatever has been working for you)
Oil,1 tbsp
Ghee, 1 tsp

Heat a deep pan with the oil and ghee. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cardamom, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon. Sauté for a minute. Next add in the thinly sliced onion and slit green chilly. Fry till the onions turn light brown. Now add the grated beetroot and all the spice powders. Mix well and let it cook for a minute or two..
Add the drained rice and mix lightly so that the masala coats the rice, add water and increase the flame. Once the water comes to boil, reduce the flame to low again, cover and cook till water dries up.
Once done, take it off heat and let it remain covered for another 5-10 minutes.
Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve as is or with curd/ raita.

Jan 2, 2013

Traditional Gazpancho

My quest for cold soups has taken me to places I never thought I would visit on a culinary trip (not that I ever thought I would want to go on a  culinary trip in the first place). Gazpancho is apparently an Andalusian peasant dish, and is made using stale bread, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. I loved it so much, that I know I am going to have it for lunch at least once a week till I tire of it.

Take 1 cup of stale bread and soak in cold water for 15 minutes.
Cover 2 pods garlic with water in a pan, bring to boil, cook for three minutes. Keep aside.
Cut 500 gms tomatoes, half a small cucumber and half a small bell pepper into large pieces and put in a blender. Drain excess water from bread and add it to the veggies. Add the garlic, 2 tbsp organic vinegar, and blend tilll smooth.
With the blender still running, add 2 tbsp olive oil in a slow, steady stream, blending till emulsified. Add water, if required.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate gazpacho until chilled, at least 3 hours (or up to 1 day).
Serve cold with croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.

Beet Borscht

After ten days of a North Indian winter, it was a shock to land back in (still) hot and humid Bombay. And yet the soul craved for the soups that I got used to in Delhi. Luckily, I had anticipated the problem, and had got a friend of the family to give me pointers on how to make cold soups. 
This is an adaptation of a Russian peasant recipe, and is an absolute winner.

Steam 2 medium beetroots in a pressure cooker till tender. Peel, cut into small pieces and keep aside.
Lightly fry 4 pods of garlic and one small onion (cut into small pieces) in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Add the beetroots and toss it around for about 30 seconds.
Add 6 tbsps tomato puree and about 1 cup chicken stock, and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Blend till almost smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with feta cheese (I ran out and used dried-out cedar)
Can be served hot or cold.

Add vodka if you want an authentic Borscht experience.