Beet Salad Gets a Face-Lift at Churchgate Station

Chaat spice and Kashmiri chile are the keys to this vibrant, Indian-inspired dish.

By Benjamin Tepler January 21, 2020 Published in the February 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Michael Novak

Bollywood Theater—the fast-casual Indian street food mini-chain with locations on SE Division and NE Alberta—is a machine. It churns out a shocking 60,000 kati rolls per year and feeds some 700 diners a day. “Any time I try to take something off the menu at Bollywood, people threaten to riot,” says chef-owner Troy MacLarty. “There’s a crush of people and space. It's hard for me to be alone with my thoughts.”

Last year, MacLarty opened Churchgate Station, an intimate supper club next door to Bollywood’s Division street location and partially inspired by his days at Portland’s infamous Ripe Family Supper. At Churchgate—named for a train station in South Mumbai—he can experiment and make runs to the farmers market without triggering a mob. At a recent dinner packed elbow to elbow with Bollywood superfans, plates like Kerala fried chicken, Malabar-style coconut curry with mussels, and fried bread pudding with cardamom whipped cream (yes, fried chicken and bread pudding are native to India) marched out of the kitchen.

But the kickoff platter, an eye-popping display of beets, citrus, avocado, and pickled turmeric, was the star. It’s emblematic of MacLarty’s vision for Churchgate: Indian cooked on a local scale. This is a tried-and-true winter citrus salad treated as a fruit “chaat,” the catchall term for Indian street snacks that often come dusted with a salty-sour spice mix of the same name. It’s an excellent introduction to cooking with Indian spices (Kashmiri chile, anyone?) and a delicious evolution for that well-worn beet salad.

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Beet Avocado Citrus Chaat

Serves 6


  • 1 bunch red beets
  • 1 bunch golden beets
  • Pomegranate dressing*
  • 2 avocados, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 lb assorted citrus, such as cara cara, navel, blood, or satsuma oranges, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch-thick rounds
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Pickled turmeric**
  • ½ tsp chaat spice
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chile powder
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro


Preheat oven to 350. Place beets in a pan, pour in a ½ inch of water, and cover tightly with tinfoil. Roast beets for 30 minutes to an hour, until tender when tested with a knife, and let cool. Peel and cut into bite-size wedges. Toss beets with ¼ cup of pomegranate dressing to coat and season with salt. Marinate at least 30 minutes. Arrange beets, avocado, and citrus on platter. Spoon dressing over the top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, slices of pickled turmeric, chaat spice, chile powder, and cilantro.

*Pomegranate Dressing

In a small pot, reduce ½ cup pomegranate juice over high heat until there are 2 tbsp remaining, reducing the heat to medium-low near the end to avoid burning. Pour into a small bowl and add 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, and 1 tbsp minced shallot. Let shallot macerate for at least 30 minutes. Whisk in ½ tsp Dijon mustard, the zest of 1 lime, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, and ½ tsp kosher salt.

**Pickled turmeric

Toss together ½ cup fresh turmeric (peeled and sliced thinly with peeler or mandolin), 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp minced serrano chile, and pinch of salt. Let marinate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Note: If short on time you can omit the turmeric; however, it adds intense flavor and texture to the salad. Chaat spice and Kashmiri chile are available at any Indian grocery store and made fresh at Bollywood Theater’s Division St. marketplace.

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