The smell of grated carrot cooking in condensed milk and pure ghee lingers in many North Indian homes and marks the beginning of a chilly winter, and the 'carrot season'. Gorgeous red coloured carrots flood the market and are quickly bagged by those who enjoy seasonal cooking.
They're crunchy, crispy and have a sweet, subtle and pleasant taste. Some like to chomp them raw and some like them glazed, baked, grilled or roasted. (Raw carrots good, cooked carrots bad: Our fickle food tastes)
Carrots come in many different colours - white, yellow, red, and purple. While the red ones seems to be more commonly found in North India, you can find the orange ones in the South of India. Carrots are used in vegetables, daal, salads and desserts. They're cooked with rice to give it a minty aroma and a whole lot of depth. Grate them and use them in coleslaw, dice them small and cook them with peas, cumin and chilli or just drizzle some oil and grill them.
Carrot juice, also known as Gajar Kanji, the one made from deep-red carrots, is also spoken of as a real health drink. It doesn't just sharpen your eyesight, but can also restore it. In fact, urban legend states that eating large quantities of carrot will allow one to see in the dark. Carrots are a great source of antioxidants, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. They're also rich in alkaline elements which works as a blood purifier. They're high on calcium, keep the intestines free from bacteria and can help lower alarmingly high levels of uric acid. (Carrot, orange and ginger juice)
How to Pick the Right Carrots? Carrots can give you good skin, shiny hair and also help with digestion. This makes it very important that they be treated with respect. Pick the ones that are of medium size, firm, unblemished and have a smooth surface. They can be stored in your fridge for up to 2 weeks and do not wash before you put them away. Washing them beforehand reduces their life span.
To celebrate carrot season, we worked with some of the country's top chefs to compile a list of our favourite carrot recipes. They're clever, creative, time-tested and will undoubtedly whet your appetite.
1. Gajar Halwa
Recipe by Chef Akhtar Rehman
A bowl of hot carrot halwa is on every Indian's must-eat list. Grated carrots are drained of all their water and infused with green cardamom, cinnamon and sugar. Then they're cooked in desi ghee and condensed milk and finally topped off with a handful of pistachios and almonds.
2. Gajar ki Kanji Recipe by Chef Niru Gupta
is every mother's go-to health drink
. Sharp eyesight, good skin and strong hair are only some of the known health benefits so don't miss out on this delicious super-drink.
3. Carrot and Cashew Coleslaw Recipe by Chef Roopa GulatiColeslaw
is a creamy salad of sorts that is made with shredded cabbage or carrots. It pairs up brilliantly with breads, appetizers
and grilled mains. All you need is 20 odd minutes to master this fantastic recipe.
4. Lahori Special Gajrella From Gawal Mandi Recipe by Muhammad Ikram
This gorgeous dish that is unique to Pakistan's Gawal Mandi area will blow you away. Carrot shreds cooked in milk, khoya
and green cardamom powder create a delectable and unique experience.
5. Carrot Pickle Recipe by Chef Niru Gupta
This one is a Punjabi favourite, especially in the winter. So don't waste more time and partner your every meal with this crispy, tangy and mind blowing achaar.
6. Cinnamon Carrot Muffins
Recipe by Chef Niru Gupta
If you're looking for a great dessert that's low on calories and big on flavour, then you've come to the right place. These tiny carrot muffins are made with a hint of cinnamon so you'll want to keep them coming.
7. Carrot Salad with Black Grape Dressing Recipe by Chef Preah Narang
This 20 minute carrot salad with raisins, almonds and a quick black grape dressing is a no brainer. It's really low on calories
and an impressive alternative to market-bought salads
8. Atta Carrot Cake Recipe by Chef Divya Burman
Replace the usual high-calorie all purpose flour with whole wheat flour
to get this gorgeous cake for a warm and wholesome evening.
9. Carrot Gojju
Recipe by Chef Aditya Bal
Carrots with a twist! Cook channa dal with grated carrots, coconut, jaggery, tamarind and curry leaves to get a delicious bowl of this colourful vegetable.
10. Carrot Soup with Middle Eastern SpicesRecipe by Chef Vicky Ratnani
Inspired by some Middle Eastern spices, this bowl of soup is creative, unique and just downright beautiful.