Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wacky Cheerfulness & the Indian Stir-Fried Carrots

One day last week, I went out for a run and encountered a parade. The paraders wore shirts that said they were parading for hunger. I rather thought they meant "against" hunger, but they were a cheerful lot so I let it pass.

The Boston police department had blocked off traffic for the paraders along most of my running route, but since I was on foot, they let me through. It was the first time I'd seen this major street free of cars, so I ran straight down the middle of it, on the double yellow line. It was a warm day with a perfect Atlantic breeze, and every few blocks a new band or singing group was playing to entertain the paraders: Gospel singers and hip-hop and even a country music group.

To celebrate the wacky cheerfulness of the event and the fact that I got to run down the middle of the street, I stir-fried some carrots when I got home. It made sense at the time.

I rarely repeat a recipe, but this is one I make all the time. The sweetness of the carrots, the heat of the spices, and the sourness of the lemon juice combine for a flavor I've never found anywhere else. And it's such a bright, cheerful dish.

This recipe is from Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking, and makes enough for 4 to 6:

2 ½ Tbsp oil
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1-inch piece of ginger, julienned
1/2 hot green chili, minced (I leave this out – I just can't take the heat)
3 whole dried red chiles
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 pounds grated carrots
3/4 tsp salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and mustard seeds, covered, until the seeds start to crackle (about 2 minutes).

Add the ginger, chiles and cumin. Cook until the ginger crisps a bit, about 2 minutes.

Add the carrots and cook until they start to change color, about 3 minutes.

Add the salt and the lemon juice, and serve.

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