I adore Indian food. The spices, bright colors and flavors could sustain me and bring joy to my palate for eternity. I never tire of the deep rich combining of so many ingredients to make one dish. Carrot pickles are one of those complexly layered side dishes that not only delight visually, but also in flavor. There are lots of ingredients, but once you have them all measured out, it only takes a few minutes to make these and they keep for at least two months in the fridge if you don’t share them. The problem I have is when people tastes them, they just want more and more and soon they are gone.
My friend and writing mentor Monica Bhide shared my recipe for Carrot Pickle in the Washington Post a few years ago. Not much has changed in my recipe. It is a classic that everybody raves about.
8 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne
¾ cup canola oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and rough chopped
4-6 small red chiles (depending on how hot you like it)
6-8 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons mustard seeds (I use brown, but black is fine too)
1 tablespoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
A hand full of curry leaves
2 tablespoons urad dal
1 teaspoon chili powder (hot)
1 tablespoon turmeric
A pinch of hing
4 tablespoons grated jaggery (or Thai palm sugar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider or white vinegar)
Lay carrots on a thick towel and roll and squeeze to remove all the water.
Puree the onion, ginger, chiles and garlic together in a food processor or mortar and reserve.
In a wok, heat the oil.. Add mustard seeds, methi seeds, urad dal, cumin and fennel seeds.
When they sputter, add 1 large onion, a chunk of ginger, and 4-5 garlic cloves that have been pureed together.
Throw in the curry leaves and fry the mixture until light golden brown. Lower the heat and add chilli powder, turmeric, cumin powder and a pinch of hing.
Add jaggery and salt.
Turn off the heat and add vinegar. Taste and adjust the spices – you want it to be hot chilli wise, but slightly sweet and sour from the sugar and vinegar. Mix in the carrots, place into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge. This will keep for several weeks. The recipe can be doubled so you can share some!