Fire in the hole! Wow, can those Uzbeks cook.
I absolutely love to try new food and from any corner roof the globe for that matter, and the other night it was from Uzbekistan. The side dish I was preparing was going to be carrots because I had just picked up quite a few from the local Farmers Market, beauties that needed to be presented and flavored in a new and refreshing way.
So I headed over to a Uzbekistan, a country near Afghanistan and Kazakhstan for a taste sensation, a flavor explosion was more like it.
These carrots get infused with an incredible caramelized onion and tomato base, get punched from the left by spicy cumin, saffron and cinnamon then a one-two punch by dried currants and goji berries for a little sweetness, and then get a refreshing kick from cilantro, mint and a crunchy topping of chopped pistachios. Interested? I was and had to try them. Stat.
Oh, and to cool the palate is a beautiful whipped plain yogurt with lemon zest.
I know, some of you out there will be thinking this is just too much, I don’t have all the ingredients, but in reality these are pretty much staple items I would think you would have on hand in your pantry or refrigerator. It’s the combination of these that rocks this dish.
Come on, you can make this and be adventurous!
Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan or skillet sauté the red onion over medium heat for a minute then add the diced garlic and chile until they begin to soften.
Add the tomato paste, cinnamon and cumin. Stir to incorporate and cook for another minute.
Add the carrots, currants, goji berries, saffron, honey and water. Stir and bring to a boil. If you don’t have currants or goji berries you can substitute another dried fruit of choice, but do try them the next time you are out to the market.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots are fork tender and liquid is coating the carrots, 20 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.
Funny, I just noticed I am reflected taking this shot in the spoon… oh well. Too pretty not to use.
Zest half the lemon and in a small bowl whisk together with the yogurt. Garnish the carrots with chopped mint and pistachios. Serve with lemon yogurt.
This was a wonderful way to celebrate these carrots. The flavors were a taste explosion and the chilled lemon yogurt helped cool things down. The different pops of sweet, savory and tangy fresh all meld with the marmalade like, slow cooked red onions and tomato.
What I enjoyed most was the variety of textures and aroma. This is definitely worth trying… come on, be adventurous and try new things!
Variety is the spice of life. 🙂
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 green Serrano chiles, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- kosher salt
- 6 large carrots, cut on the bias into 2 inch pieces
- ¼ cup dried currants, or other dried fruit
- 2 tbsp goji berries
- ¼ tsp saffron stamens
- 1½ cups water, plus more if needed
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 lemon
- Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan or skillet sauté the red onion over medium heat for a minute then add the diced garlic, chile and black pepper until they begin to soften.
- Add the tomato paste, cinnamon and cumin. Stir to incorporate and cook for another minute.
- Add the carrots, currants, goji berries, saffron, honey and water. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots are fork tender and liquid is costing the carrots, 20 minutes. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Zest half the lemon and in a small bowl whisk together with the yogurt. Garnish the carrots with chopped mint and the pistachios. Serve with lemon yogurt.
Adapted from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious.