My love of Moroccan food is boundless, and this salad is one of my favourite dishes. Okay, so I guess it’s a bit of a stretch to call Moroccan carrot salad a “Silk Road” inspired salad, but it just tastes so good, and accompanies the other salads so well, I can’t resist. Not to mention the fact that throughout Central Asia, along the far reaches of the Silk Road, one can find a similar salad called “Korean Carrot Salad” which is not actually Korean, but a Russian version of something probably made by ethnic Koreans living in the former Soviet block. The recipe that follows is definitely the Moroccan version, but you could easily create the “Korean” version by making a few simple substitutions. In fact, my version of this Moroccan salad actually makes use of a mandoline to shred the carrots, which one would use when making Korean Carrot Salad – when normally the Moroccan version uses diced carrots. I love how the shredded carrots absorb the flavours.
Allow this salad to marinade a few hours, and serve it cold to accompany any Moroccan feast – it has always been a pleaser when we serve it to guests. I’ve kept the traditional spices, but reduced the oil to make it healthy and low fat.
6 large carrots, match-stick sized (use a mandoline)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped mint
Steam the carrots on low in a steaming basket. You want them to maintain some crunch, so watch them carefully and be sure not to over cook. Meanwhile, heat a pan (dry) and sprinkle cumin seeds over the hot surface. Allow the seeds to cook, tossing frequently, until they become toasted and aromatic. Remove to cool. Whisk lemon, salt, paprika, garlic and olive oil in a bowl. When cumin is cooled, crush partially with a pestle and mortar – just enough to open the flavour further. Add to the dressing. Once carrots have cooked, drain and cool them in a colander – I recommend running them under cold water for a minute. When they are at room temperature, mix in the dressing, and the mint and parsley. Allow the salad to marinade, and enjoy.
Variation (Central Asian): Heat the oil in a pan and fry a finely chopped onion in it. Instead of using cumin, use one tablespoon of caraway seeds. When making the dressing, substitute half of the paprika with 1/2 tsp of ground coriander, and lemon with 2 tbsp of white vinegar or wine vinegar. Add this to the onion and olive oil mixture. Substitute the parsley and mint with dill.