It’s a travesty that this is the first time we’ve made something by the queen of all things aromatic, Claudia Roden (a short bio of whom can be found here), however to me the interesting thing currently about this recipe is what it represents in terms of time and cost.
Such things have been on my mind recently as Living Below the Line takes place. (For those who don’t know, this is when middle class people spend five whole days in May, eating nought but porridge and pasta in order to develop a sense of empathy with the 1.4 billion people globally who live with food insecurity – including the poorest 10% of people in the UK. Related costs such as travelling to buy food, gas or electricity to cook it and wash up afterwards are rarely mentioned.)
Of course I applaud those who donate what they would have spent on food to charity, however the shifting of focus (and by implication responsibility) away from food production and distribution and on to the individual’s ability to respond to fluctuations in price and then icing it with a thick layer of ‘let them eat lentils’ is most unpalatable.
The relationship between Below the Line and this recipe is as follows: carrots, particularly large, old ones which store well are one of the cheapest vegetables to buy, however the initial cost for seasoning for this dish – a tube of harissa, a bottle of vinegar, a head of garlic etc, could exceed the entire weekly food budget of someone on a low income. Like so many recipes, it’s cheap, but only if you’re already (relatively) well-off – bait-and-switch in edible form. I’m not criticising this delicious, healthy dish, but we don’t shop, cook and eat in a vacuum.
This is a fiery Moroccan salad. Make it with old carrots which taste better [another old carrot recipe can be found here]. Add the flavourings gradually, to taste. The colour is beautiful. Serve as a dip with bread or bits of raw vegetable.
500g (1lb) carrots
Salt and pepper
½ – 1 teaspoon Harissa (or 1 teaspoon paprika and a good pinch of cayenne)
1 – 2 teaspoons cumin
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ – ½ teaspoon ginger
Few olives to garnish
Peel the carrots and boil in salted water until very soft. Drain and mash with a fork [or potato masher] and stir in the rest of the ingredients, or, better still, turn to a smooth paste in a blender.
Serve cold garnished with a few green or black olives.
I made a half quantity of this recipe (3 decent sized carrots) and I didn’t peel them because I never do. They took quite a long time to boil until soft enough to mash (atleast ten minutes), I wasn’t paying attention because I was washing up. I used Turkish breakfast olives – my favourite kind.
At first the flavour was so strong, it was like being clipped round the ear. I scraped it into a pot and hid it at the back of the fridge for 3 days. It mellowed into something excellent - sweet, spicy and refreshing. It kept well in the fridge for just over a week and was very filling. Reducing the amount seasoning ( one clove of garlic, a pinch of chilli, oil or vinegar – not both) would make this cheaper and something which could be eaten immediately. This salad goes well with any mild cheese, pitta bread, normal bread, slices of pepper, sticks of cucumber, canellini beans, grilled lamb and mixed with bread crumbs and cooked onion as a stuffing for aubergines.
Mashed by Elly, with thanks to Miss South for the fruitful discussion.