Carrot is the domesticated version of ‘ducus carota’, the wild carrot. Carrot is a vegetable that grows underground mainly cultivated for its taproot. It is mainly grown in spring and summer season. The edible part of carrot has a crispy texture and a fresh flavor. Though most commonly available carrots have orange or red color but purple and yellow-colored carrots are also exists. Carrot is widely used in making various side dishes as well as desserts. Carrot cake and carrot pickle are famous carrot dishes throughout the world.
History of Carrot
Afghanistan is believed to be the native place for the wild variety of carrot. Wild carrot has undergone many changes and hence modern carrot is introduced. In Europe the domesticated version of carrot has been introduced in 8th and 10th centuries. In 17th Century, orange-colored carrots were introduced in Netherlands and before that in around 12th century, the Arab agriculturists had introduced the yellow and red varieties of carrot.
Culinary Use of Carrot
Due to its fresh and crispy texture, carrot is eaten in raw form. Raw carrots are also an integral part in salads. Carrot pulp is also widely used to make various sweets and desserts. The high nutritional value of carrot makes it a very good baby food. Boiled or steamed carrots give richness to soups and stews. Carrot is also an essential component in French ‘mirepoix’. It is used to give flavor to various broths and sauces. Carrot dishes such as carrot pudding and cakes include grated carrot. Carrots can also be preserved with salt and vinegar to be served as a condiment. Carrot juliennes are fondly added to garnish various lentil and rice dishes. Raw carrot, cut in cylindrical shape without peel is a very popular ready-to eat finger snack and carrot drinks are also famous as a healthy drink.
Popular Carrot Recipes
• Gajar ka halwa – A popular Indian sweet dish made with grated carrot boiled with milk and sugar. When the mixture becomes thick and carrot becomes soft, the dish is ready and it is garnishes with nuts and raisins.
• Carrot cake – A popular English dessert baked with grated carrot.
• Moroccan carrot salad – It’s a Moroccan side dish made with boiled carrots and other salad ingredients.
• Carrot coleslaw – Like cabbage coleslaw, carrot coleslaw is also a well-liked side dish.
• Carrot pickle – In Indian cuisine, carrot pickle is a well-like condiment. It is made with oil and spices.
Cuisines Commonly Making Carrot Dishes
In English cuisine, carrot is an indispensable part of desserts. Carrot pudding is a famous English dessert. In French cuisine, mirepoix makes the best use of carrots along with onion and celery. It gives a nice flavor to soups, stews and sauces. Carrot dishes made in Indian cuisine includes spicy dry dishes as well as rice dishes. Famous Indian sweet dish ‘gajar ka halwa’ is incomplete without carrots. Carrot pickle is also widely eaten in Indian cuisine. Chinese cuisine also includes various carrot recipes such as carrot soup and fried Manchurian balls also include grated carrot.
Preferred Methods for Preparing Carrot Dishes
Carrot dishes can be prepared in several ways and some of them are as follows:
• Chopped – Chopped carrot can either be used in salads or added to soups and stews.
• Boiled – Many carrot dishes are cooked with boiled carrot.
• Stir-fried – Indian dishes often calls for stir-fried carrots.
• Sliced – Most of the salad dishes include slices of carrot.
• Grated - Grated carrot is mostly used in desserts.
• Pureed – Carrot puree is also widely used to make sauces and sweet dishes.
• Pickled – Carrot can either be pickled in oil and spices or it can be brined with salt and vinegar.
Nutritive Value of Carrots
The greatest nutritional benefit of the carrot is that it is an excellent source of beta carotene. This beta carotene is converted into vitamins by the body, which is needed for healthy vision as well as it also maintains the mucous membranes. Carrot dishes also provide vitamin A. Pureed carrot is an effective remedy for babies suffering from diarrhea. Carrot also contains anti-cancerous properties.
Buying and Storing Carrots
While buying and storing carrots few points should be kept in mind. These are as follows:
• Fresh and crisp carrots should be purchased.
• Carrots with green leaves are sweet in taste.
• Always buy bright-colored and firm carrots.
• Carrots should be stored while cutting its leaves as they are very rarely consumed.
• Carrot dishes can also be stored in fridge for 2-3 days.
Types of Carrot
• Eastern carrots – Mainly grown in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Usually, these carrots are purple or yellow in color.
• Western carrots – This variety of carrots was first introduced in Netherlands. Western carrots are usually orange in color though other colors such as red and white also exits. Nantes, Imperator, Danvers and Chantenay carrots are the popular varieties of western carrots.
• The first vegetable that is used for canning purposes commercially is carrot.
• Carrot juice has also been used as a printer ink by Ed Ruscha, a former artist.