Thursday, August 5, 2010

0 Recipe #160: Carrot Curry (Gadjar Kari)

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This South Indian-inspired recipe is a tasty, nutritious treat!

Carrot Curry (Gadjar Kari)

Ginger-Garlic Paste Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. garlic, finely minced (about 2 large cloves)
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely minced (about 1" piece)
1/2 tsp. salt

Curry Ingredients: 
1 tsp. extra virgin coconut oil
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
4-6 curry leaves, julienned (optional/if available)
1/2 c. unsalted, dried raw cashews
3/4 c. yellow onion, sliced into 1/4" crescent slivers
1 Tbsp. jalapeño pepper, minced (about 1/2 jalapeño pepper)
1/2 c. baby carrots, sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds (about 15 baby carrots)
3-4 c. water (or more, as needed)
2/3 c. red bell pepper
2 c. vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 4 medium-sized tomatoes)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. honey, or to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground mace
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely minced
1/4 c. nonfat plain Greek yoghurt
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions: Using a mortar & pestle or a food processor, pulverize the garlic, ginger, & salt until it forms a smooth paste. If you choose to use the food processor, transfer ingredients to a small bowl & set aside. In a large sauté pan, dry roast black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, & cashews in coconut oil on medium-high heat, covering ingredients with a splatter screen, to shield you from the hot, spluttering ingredients. Cook until seeds start to crackle & pop. Be carefully not to burn cashews. Remove from heat & carefully & quickly lift screen to add onions & jalapeños, once again immediately covering them with the screen. Place pan back on burner & sauté onions & jalapeños on medium-low heat until onions are soft & translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove screen & set it aside. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste & cook for another 30 seconds or so. Turn heat back up to medium-high. Immediately add carrots & 1 c. of water, cooking until water has almost completely evaporated. Then add red pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, honey (if using), the rest of the dried spices & another 1 c. water & once again reduce liquid. Continue to add more water as necessary, a cup at a time, making sure to reduce each addition of water has almost completely evaporated before adding the next cup. Cook until carrots are soft & tender (but still slightly firm), about another 20-30 minutes. In the final minute of cooking, add the cilantro. Remove from heat & rapidly stir in Greek yoghurt & lemon juice until well combined. Serve immediately, on a bed of (saffrron) basmati rice &/or with freshly baked naan.

Yield: Serves 2-3.

Chef's Notes: If you prefer, you can also shred the carrots in a food processor, using the appropriated fitted, metal blade. The carrots will also cook a lot faster this way (i.e., increased surface area = faster cooking), so if you choose this option, be sure to reduce their cooking time. Personally, I prefer the texture of the sliced carrots in this particular dish, but of course, the way in which you chop them up is up to you.

Instead of dry roasting the cashews with the seeds & curry leaves, another option is to lightly toast the cashews in the toaster oven before adding them to the pan; if you do this, be sure to add them only after the tomatoes have been added, to prevent them from burning.

You'll note that the picture above is garnished with a sprig of celery leaves. In Indian cuisine, this is often referred to as a "celery curl." Celery curl is sometimes used as a garnish. Celery stalks, on the other hand, are almost never used in traditional Indian dishes.

Variations: If you like your curry with even more heat, add 1 dried red chile de arbol, cracked in half. You could also add 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut to this dish, either in addition to the cashews or as a substitute the cashews or in addition to them. If you're going to use both, I recommend cutting the amount of cashews in half, to keep the number of fat calories of this dish within healthy parameters.

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