Greek yogurt, beets & horseradish dip


My Jewish heritage comes from the Ashkenazi tradition of Eastern Europe. Although not world famous for its explosive flavourful cuisine, it has one little hidden gem I really love. Chrain (sometimes spelled hrein or chrein) is an intense beetroot relish from Russian origin that packs a heavy punch thanks to freshly grated horseradish and vinegar. Much like mustard It can really elevate bland foods and god knows that Ashkenazi cuisine can really use any help it can get.

Growing up in Israel, we used to have chrain in the spring around Passover time together with chopped chicken liver. Beets and liver are not very popular within the world’s children community so I would secretly drizzle tahini on top of it to mask the horror. Unconventional but I was an experimental child. Fast forward 20 years later and I am invited to a traditional Christmas lunch in Jutland Denmark with my girlfriend's family. Knowing nothing at the time about Danish cuisine, my girlfriend suggested I try a beetroot relish called syltede rødbeder together with leverpostej, a pork liver paste that she claimed was a Danish classic. Having a curious mouth I accepted and as soon as it hit my palette, alarm bells went up in my head like a submarine sinking into the deep ocean. It's been years since I had chrain but something about the beetroot - horseradish - liver combo made something emerge from the depth of my consciousness and onto the surface. Here I was sitting in an unfamiliar house, surrounded by snow. Listening to Danes singing Christmas songs in complete gibberish while dancing like pagans around a Christmas tree. All the while I was having flashbacks from my childhood in the Middle East. What a trip, I think auntie Rigmor went all in with the horseradish.

Fast forward a few more years and I am trying to think of a new concept for a cook book. An amorphic vision is floating in my head. I know it has to do with flavours from the Israeli melting pot and my experiences in Denmark but I can’t quite see it clearly. I need something to eat in order to push this baby out. Slowly a lucid flavour is appearing in my mind, of course! BEETROOT & HORSERADISH. Instead of formulating a book idea I started working on a recipe. After some experimentation the following recipe was ready. It was a trinity of perfection for the time and space I was in. Just what I needed, a comforting slice of Danish ‘Hygge’, a little bit of Ashkenazi Jewish tradition and a Middle Eastern slap across the face. Culinary synergy.

For this recipe I used greek yogurt and roasted pine nuts. It's my favourite but you can substitute them for any creamy sour dairy product and hazelnuts respectively. It’s a creamy, sweet, slightly sour dip with rich flavours that will work great next to beef or lamb meatballs and stews or a chicken wrap like in the featured pictures. You can also just have it as a spread on a piece of freshly baked bread, next to a salad, on top of spicy rice or in a sandwich with cold cuts.


250gr. beetroot (approx 1 big beet)
20 - 35gr. horse radish (adjust to taste)
30gr. pinenuts
500gr. greek yogurt
2tsp. curry powder
Small glass of beets cooking water
Salt & pepper (to taste)


In a small pot with a lid, cover the whole beets with water and bring to a boil on high heat. When the water reaches boiling temperature reduce the heat to medium and add a generous tsp of salt. Cover the pot with the lid and let it cook for 40-50 minutes. The cooking time varies depending on the size of the beets so once in a while poke the biggest beet with a fork to check readiness. If the fork goes in smoothly into the beet it's ready.

While the beets are cooking, peel the skin off the horseradish root and using a small food processor, mince the root until its finally chopped. If you don't have a food processor, use a chef’s knife to chop it as small as possible and set aside. Heat a small, non stick or cast iron pan and roast the pine nuts on medium heat until golden. Approx 3-5 minutes, rolling them over a few times so they become golden all around. Poor the yogurt into a bowl and mix in the horse radish and curry powder.

When the beets are ready, keep one glass of the cooking liquid and put it aside. Let the beets cool down for a few minutes and under cold water peel them with your hands. The skin should fall off easily if you put some pressure on the beets. Chop the beets to small cubes of about half a centimetre by half a centimetre. Add the cubed beets to the bowl along with salt and pepper to taste. Using a hand whisker, mix all the ingredients together well and slowly add a little bit of the cooking liquids until you achieve a desired consistency. You don't have to add the whole glass. I like to get a smooth, mildly runny texture. Try the dip and adjust the seasoning to your taste. Don't be scared of the horseradish punchiness, once chilled in the fridge it will calm down significantly. 

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