Thursday, July 23, 2009

Carrots Aren't Just For Rabbits

When planning any meal it's important to have the right mix of dishes on the table. It's like writing, having all the words in the right place is what makes the difference. An Indian meal is no exception, the proper balance of hot and mild, wet and dry, sweet and tart, soft and crunchy is important. That's where Carrot Salad comes in!

Most of us , have been eating some form of cold carrot salad since we were kids. Sometimes there were raisins, sometimes not, sometimes mayo sometimes not. Either way, mine was always accompanied by 6 foot tall Mrs. Duckworth in our school cafeteria usually with Sister Lorraine in tow.."You will finish that Miss Gori!!!". Obviously I wasn't a fan and it was always a battle getting me to cleanmy plate..or tray until I started cooking Indian. The Carrot recipe I particularly like is from Kerala in the south of India and involves using curry leaves..fresh or frozen. Now I'm NOT talking about curry powder. As I said before there is NO curry powder used in real Indian cooking so if you see a book calling for that as an ingredient as they say in my family fugggedaboutit.
Curry leaves are large fresh green leaves that come from a shrub sometimes called sweet neem leaf, and cooking with them is similar to cooking with bay leaves. They're used the same way, but the similarity stops there. You can get curry leaves by the branch or fresh in a bag at almost any Indian or South Asian market in your area or, you can order them online. Don't worry about having too many. They freeze very well. Keep them in a freezer bag and take out what you need when you need them.
So, as to the Kerala style Carrot Salad. This can be put together easily to go along with any lunch or dinner menu. It's great on the buffet and makes a wonderful take along to a potluck.
How do you do it? First of all..

1.) Peel and grate 4 medium size fresh carrots. I always use a food processor for this step. It's done in a flash.

2.) Heat a bit of oil..about 2 Tbs in a large heavy pan. I use a Karahi, or Indian style wok, or you might use a regular wok as the secret of this salad is a quick stir fry

3.) When the oil is hot toss in 1 tsp. of black mustard seeds. Once they start to snap and pop

4.) Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped onion and

5.) 1/4 tsp of turmeric

6.)After you've fried that for a couple of minutes add

7.)1 Tbs of finely chopped up fresh ginger.

8.) 2 green chilis. Cut them in half the long way and remove all the seeds first.

9.) 10 fresh curry leaves...frozen is ok too, just toss them right in to the pan from your freezer.

10.) Fry it up until the onion is softened then

11.) Add your grated carrots, along with a 1/2 tsp of salt.

12.)Cook it all quickly in the pan stirring and tossing it frequently until your carrots are soft.

13.)Finally, when everything has softened, turn down your burner and add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and blend it in just till it's warmed up. Don't boil it!

And, now you're ready to serve!

So, Fix an Indian carrot salad, it'll be quick to cook, tasty and gone. No one will stand over you and say finish that Miss Gori...That's the important thing.

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