Carrots – it’s Bugs Bunny’s favourite food and one of the few vegetables that sits well with children. To cooks, they are essential flavour base for stews and soup. To me, it’s one of my to-go vegetables whenever I need to bulk up my stir-fries, noodles and fried rice.
Despite carrots are my everyday ingredient, I have to admit they rarely been given star treatment in a dish – likened to backing singers in stews and soup or wallflowers in proms to fill the gaps in my stir-fries. Yes, we made carrot cakes but even with that, we grate them finely, concealing them in batter and distract ourselves further with finger-lickin’ good cream cheese frosting. Oh sure, we bake baby carrots and glaze them with maple syrup or honey but these are made to complement our roast chickens and turkeys, no?
So for a change, I like to see carrots going solo in a dish. That’s why I made this flavoursome and creamy Sri Lankan styled spicy carrot coconut curry to bring out the star quality of this root vegetable. After all it’s the year of rabbit and I have to somehow pay homage to its favourite food. Having said that, I don’t know how a rabbit would feel about curry carrots though!
Spicy Carrot Coconut Curry
(adapted generously from Ceylon Cookery by Chandra Dissanayake)
Note: I have simplified the recipe based on what I have namly the curry leaves. If you have them on hand, feel free to add a couple of leaves while sauteing the onion and green chilli.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 4 large carrots
- 1 large onion
- 1 green chilli
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsps chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
- 2 tsps ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsps oil
- Salt to taste
- A handful of fresh coriander – stalk part to be added into the curry and leaves for garnish
- Peel, wash and cut carrots into 2 inched strips ( I cut a carrot into 4 parts. For each part, I sliced into half and each half I cut into 3 slices). Chop onions and a green chilli.
- Add the sliced carrots with ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and chilli powder in a mixing bowl. Mix well.
- Heat oil until very hot in the pan. Add chopped onions and green chilli and saute until the onions are lightly brown.
- Add carrot mixture and keep tossing for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and water. Bring to boil and simmer with a lid on until the carrots are tender. Just before the end of cooking time (when the carrots are quite tender), add the stalk part of the coriander into the curry.
- Taste the curry if more salt is required. If the curry happens to be too salty, add some sugar (brown sugar is preferred) to balance the taste.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately. Best served with rice.
By the way, here’s how I stored the remaining coconut milk – a tip picked up from a dear friend.
Fill an ice cube tray with remaining coconut milk and store it in the freezer. Once the coconut milk cubes are frozen, I sticked the tray in a zip lock bag to prevent the cubes from getting the “fridge smell”.