Carrot: The Most Versatile Vegetable In Indian Cooking
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Carrots are among the most popular and widely consumed vegetables in India. They are also one of the most versatile and adaptable vegetables, making them a mainstay of Indian cuisine.  

Whether served raw as an accompaniment to other dishes or cooked into a side dish or dessert, carrots can be incorporated into almost any type of meal. In fact, Indians have found so many different ways to incorporate this root vegetable that it is difficult to think of another food that comes even remotely close to being as versatile as carrots.  

That said, there is definitely an argument for why carrots are the most versatile vegetable in Indian cuisine, at least when it comes to their use in dishes from all over the country. Read on to learn more! 

How old is the carrot?

The carrot is a root vegetable that originated in Asia, and is believed to have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Nowadays, carrots are cultivated all over the world, but India is one of their largest producers. In fact, India is the world’s second largest producer of carrots, after China. In terms of health benefits, it has been said that carrots can help to prevent cancer, lower cholesterol, prevent cardiovascular disease, treat eye disorders, and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. When it comes to taste, carrots are naturally sweet, with earthy and aromatic undertones. They are commonly eaten raw as a snack or side dish, or cooked as a vegetable accompaniment to other dishes. 

How are carrots used in Indian cooking?

Carrots are used in a huge number of Indian dishes and recipes, making them one of the most essential ingredients in Indian cooking. Here are some dishes that are prepared across India using carrots as the main ingredient. 

Curries: Carrots are commonly used in Indian curries and side dishes. In fact, it is difficult to find a curry dish in India that doesn’t include carrots. In South Indian cuisine, it is common to use carrots in sambar and rasam dishes. Similarly, in North Indian cuisine, carrots are abundant in curry dishes. In the state of Punjab, for example, it is common to add carrots to vegetable curries.  

Gajar ka Halwa: A delectable sweet dessert, gajar ka halwa is perhaps the most popular way to use carrots in Indian cuisine. In this dish, carrots are cooked with milk, sugar, and ghee (Indian clarified butter), and served as a sweet side dish.

Carrot soup: As winter approaches, make a hearty carrot soup to keep yourself and your family warm. This vegan friendly soup is made with fresh and sweet orange carrots, along with a combination of sauteed onions, garlic, and warm cumin. 

Carrot Porriyal: Carrot Porriyal is a dry, stir-fried preparation made with grated carrot and seasoned with spices, herbs, and coconut.  

Pickles: Although not a common way to use carrots in modern Indian cooking, carrots are also an ingredient in many Indian pickles. To make a homemade carrot pickle, you need fresh carrots, green chilies, ginger, pickle spices, sugar, and tamarind. Be sure to cut the carrot slices thick so that they do not end up becoming mushy when cooked.

Salads and Side Dishes: Carrots can also be used in a wide range of side dishes in Indian cuisine. Chop carrots into sticks or slices and serve them as an accompaniment to curries or other side dishes. Alternatively, boil or steam carrots and serve them with a butter or ghee-based sauce.

Gajar ka bharta: A simple and delicious way to use carrots in Indian cooking is to mash them and serve them as a side dish with rice or rotis. Use boiled and mashed carrots and tomato puree to make this dish. Heat some oil and add cumin seeds. Fry onions, then add the carrot-tomato paste and fry for a while. Season with salt and spices and enjoy. 

Carrot Dal: This unusual but delicious combination of dal and carrots is popular in India. In particular, it is a common dish in the southern part of India. To make it, you need two types of lentils that are cooked with ginger, garlic, and carrots. Have it with rice or roti for a complete meal.  

Carrot Raita: Raita is a popular Indian dish that is made with yogurt, vegetables, or other ingredients. Carrot raita is a delicious, tasty alternative to the traditional yogurt dish.

Carrot Fritters: Fritters are a popular snack, and a common way to use carrots. To make them, combine grated carrots, spring onions, ground cumin, ground coriander, fresh coriander, salt, and garlic in a bowl. Add one beaten egg and flour, and combine well. Fry spoonfuls of them to make a tasty snack. 

Chocolate Carrot Cake: Incorporate carrots into your regular chocolate cake to take it up a notch and impress guests. All you need to make this scrumptious cake are carrots, sugar, oil, cocoa powder, baking powder, and eggs. Add the shredded carrot bits into your cake batter and bake normally.