Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carrot Thoren

I was rustling through my freezer this week when I found some frozen curry leaves tucked against the back wall. Jackpot! After consulting a cookbook ("Savoring the Spice Coast of India" by Maya Kaimal), I decided to try a new dish: carrot thoren, or carrots with coconut and urad dahl (which I served with a seasoned dahl, shown in the back of the photo).

The dish starts by heating mustard seeds in oil. After the mustard seeds have popped, urad dahl, (freezer spotted) curry leaves, and a red chili are added, and cooked until the urad dahl begins to brown. Chopped onions then enter the pot, followed by grated carrots and salt.

After the carrots have cooked briefly, a paste made from grated coconut, ground cumin seed, tumeric, cayenne pepper, and water is stirred in, and the mixture cooks just a few minutes more.

The result is a nice blend of spicy and sweet, without being overly carrot-y. The dish had a good crunch thanks to the carrots, urad dahl, and coconut; I really liked the texture of the thoren in contrast with the soft, soupy seasoned dahl. I can see myself eating carrot thoren year-round, but it's an especially nice mid-winter change-up on a typical winter vegetable.


Chris said...

This dish sounds fabulous - a much-needed spicy twist on the average carrot side dish. I've never used or even heard of urad dahl, though, so is there some substitute for it?

Beatrice said...

Hi, Chris. I found urad dahl (the bag actually said "urid dahl" but I'm pretty sure it's the same thing) at my local Indian grocery store. If you can't find an Indian grocery store near you (which would be a shame b/c they sell good stuff like curry leaves, and relatively inexpensive spices), I might just try to make the dish without it? Or substitute chopped nuts, for a slightly different effect?

Dana Treat said...

Beatrice, how do you think the curry leaves held up in the freezer? I have a hard time finding them, so I am always tempted to buy a bunch and freeze, but afraid they will lose their unique flavor.

Beatrice said...

Hi, Dana. I think the curry leaves hold up pretty well in the freezer - I try to use mine within a year, but within that time, I don't notice a significant difference in flavor - they just get a little bit less pretty.

The cookbook I use recommends patting the leaves dry, and storing them in the freezer, between dry paper towels, in an airtight freezer bag.

Another option, which I haven't explored, is getting your own curry leaf plant (murraya koenigii). I am terrible with plants, but it would be nice to have fresh leaves right in your own home.

vb said...

I know this cookbook and saved several recipes from it. This dish looks great!

eatme_delicious said...

Ooo I haven't seen something like this before. Sounds really good.