Indian Spiced Carrot Mash.
Ever just stare at your fridge looking for answers? Any answers. A clue. A prophecy. A burning bush. Just anything other than a bare fridge with no glimpse into a fuller future. I get this quite often and it’s usually in the throes of boredom do I end up with my nose in the fridge looking for a solution. Who else boredom cooks? Because I do. I’ve made entire loaves of bread whilst bored before now, my mind just on static daydream and I end up two hours later, fulfilled and suddenly with some food by my side. Thank God I go to a gym.
Anyway, this recipe came to me on a lazy Sunday when I had a staring contest with a bag of carrots. I had been making a carrot cake for a magazine shoot the day before and was now left with a bag of sunset coloured carrots that were of no real use to man or beast. These were decorative carrots. There’s always a plethora of leftover ingredients lying about after a day like that and they often end up back in my fridge. But what on Earth was I to do with a bag of carrots?
I toyed with the age old idea of doing a soup. That’s usually the thought process of using up leftover nonsense in the fridge, isn’t it? But I couldn’t be bothered with a soup and just wanted to use up these orange daggers at the bowel of my fridge and as I had planned to eat some chicken that night, I decided I wanted a comforting mash. I put two and two together and decided to make some kind of Indian spiced carrot mash to really give the chicken an unusual accompaniment twist.
The trick here is that carrots are naturally very sweet and don’t lose this in the water, and this is only more enhanced when a carrot is blitzed as the particles break down. For this reason, so that you don’t end up with a bowl of sweet orange mush, is to counter it with some really gutsy flavours in order to ensure a lovely balance. That’s why I opted for the warmer spices, so that it was able to retain a roundness whilst still have the texture of a unique mash.
Take a whole bunch of carrots, I used about 5 or 6, and peel them before roughly chopping in half. Fill a big pan with water and put on the hob, before adding a chicken stock cube. Bring this to a boil before adding the carrots and throwing in some whole black peppercorns and a teaspoon of curry powder. Add a bouquet garni – which for those of us who want to simply life is basically a teabag filled with thyme, sage and bay leaves – and allow to bubble for roughly 10-15 minutes or until soft.
SIDE NOTE – you can pick up a bouquet garni for a very low price in a big supermarket. I haven’t tried this recipe without the herbal teabag so I can’t assume it would taste the same? You could try it with just the dried bay leaves, I guess?
Once the carrots have softened, turn off the heat and remove the carrots from the water with a slotted spoon. Add them to the bowl of a food processor before adding some celery salt and some dry chili flakes. While it’s not pictured, it may be worth adding a small amount of crème fraiche here also if you require a creamier consistency, but it’s amazing both with and without. Blitz everything into a mashed up puree.
You may keep this in your fridge until you’re ready to use with your preferred meat – adorning with some fresh coriander and pumpkin seeds – or you could just stab at it straight away with a fork. The way I may or may not have, mind your business.
It was a really nice way to cure my Sunday boredom, just walking around my kitchen in my underwear, throwing things together and trying. This recipe is however one of many children that were birthed from boredom and has stood the test of time as I have cooked this several times with a few additions. I’ve added Red Leicester cheese to the processor and I have also added a little coconut milk instead of crème fraiche. It’s accompanied curries, chicken, BBQ’s – the whole gamut – as an interesting alternative to mash.
Trolling around the Kitchen and just snatching at things and praying if they work. This is what cooking essentially is. Knowing the blueprint but being confident enough to just take a risk and hope for the best. If the outcome is delicious, then everybody’s happy but if the outcome isn’t that great, learn and do it differently next time. It’s the kind of cooking I live for.