I abhorred beetroot as a child. There was something rather sinister about a vegetable that was so unrealistically vibrant. You would think that a colour that vivacious would entice a young person, but I think it was its health attributes and partial force feeding of it that outweighed such relevance to a 10-year-old. My memories of beetroot were of usually three things. Beetroot juice my dad would drink, chukandar gosht (a slow-cooked beetroot and beef stew that was a little too earthy for a child) and raw beetroot salad. None of these ever appealed.

As I grew up, I continued to be unamused by this vegetable, until I moved to Britain. It started off as a fascination for vinegary, chilli-infused and juniper-flavoured sealed packaged or bottled beetroots in supermarkets, which were always a novelty as the only beetroot I knew was the dirt-covered ones either pulled out from my grandmother’s garden or the vegetable vendor in the markets in Karachi.

Slowly, I found that this dubious vegetable started to pop up in the prepared salads I ate at my desk, or in sandwiches; and the more I gave it a chance, the more I began to secretly enjoy this sweet, earthy and lively addition. I found that I began to crave this slightly addictive flavour, and only bought fresh beetroot in different colours and varieties at this time of year. I no longer favoured the cooked variety but opted for the fresh, finding new ways to cook with it and delving deeper into my heritage recipes and international ones, creating my own twists to dishes I tasted, from soups to side dishes.

At this time of year the beetroot is at its best, sweet, heady with this taste of the earth emanating through every bite, cooked or raw. It is sublime and as I delve deeper into my new-found adoration for this veggie, beetroot is a winner.

The easiest way I find to cook it is to whack up the oven to 200C and pierce an unpeeled but washed beetroot a few times with a fork, wrap it in foil and let it cook until soft, usually 1.5 hours, depending on its size. (Never throw away the leaves if you have them, they are glorious in a stir fry, salad or even a smoothie). So once the beetroot is cooked, unwrap it – it peels effortlessly with the aid of a knife, carefully slice it or chop depending on what you’re using it for. For me the recipe below is a take on the Pakistani/Afghani/Irani borani, which is a yoghurt-based accompaniment. There are many variations to this dish, but I find this complements the star ingredient at its best during its height of season sweetness. I write this as I feed my midday desire by munching on a roasted beet and crème cheese sandwich.

Sumayya’s beetroot and dried mint borani

Serves: 2-3 as an accompaniment

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

1 large beetroot (prepare as instructed above in article)

250 g full fat Greek yoghurt

¼ tsp crushed garlic

salt to taste

A squeeze of lemon juice

5 mint leaves, chopped finely

½ tsp dried mint

2 tsp roughly chopped pistachios

A few springs of dill to garnish

Prepare beetroot by cooking in oven until soft (as above) and then peel when slightly cooled and cut into very thin slices, keep aside.

Prepare the yoghurt by mixing all the ingredients except the dried mint, dill and pistachios. Mix well.

Place the prepared yoghurt onto a flat plate as a base, top with sliced cooked beetroot and garnish with dill, dried mint and pistachios. Serve room temperature.