WE WERE having dal and rice for tea and I wanted something spicy and crunchy to brighten things up. My Anglo-Mango chutney wasn’t quite the thing.
Instead of going out and buying a jar I rustled up my own version of gajar ka achar, or carrot pickle.
Sub-continental enthusiasts might bridle at my take on this lovely little side dish but it works for me.
For one sitting you’ll need two medium-sized carrots cut into batons and the principal spices are mustard seeds, turmeric and fresh ginger. Anything else is up to you – a bit of chilli if you want it hot, a pinch or two of cumin and a little fenugreek perhaps.
Heat a little oil (mustard oil is more authentic but not essential here) then add the spices. I used two dessert spoons of black mustard seeds, two inches of grated fresh ginger and a dessert spoon of turmeric.
I like to add a bay leaf when cooking and I scattered in a pinch of chilli flakes. Season to taste.
Now add the carrots batons and fry gently for about five minutes before adding a dessert spoon of sugar and enough white wine or cider vinegar to cover. Keep cooking until the vinegar evaporates. Add more if necessary.
You are looking for a sweet-sour, spicy finish with the carrots retaining a little crunch.
We find this very one-dish and it’s ready within minutes the next day. It will improve if left for a day or two.
Incidentally, if you have any leftover rice and dal then mix them together with a little beaten egg, shape into small patties, dust with flour and shallow fry for a snack, lunch or light tea. They are very good.