Spicy Carrot Spread with Garlic Yogurt (Havuç Ezmesi)
Makes 6 to 8 servings as an appetizer
Adapted from Classic Turkish Cookery by Ghillie Başan (J.B. Tauris & Co. 1997)
Spicy Carrot Spread balances carrots’ sometimes-too-dominant sweetness with tart lemon, savory seeds, and spicy cayenne pepper. Its flavors are so enticingly delicious, it can be served to vegans or fasters without the garlic yogurt. For those whose diets allow, combining garlicky, herb-filled yogurt and spicy carrots is the way to go. The two spreads look beautiful and taste even better. Go ahead; serve them at your next party. Your guests will praise you and, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a few bites left over to eat for breakfast. When adding cayenne, use the smaller amount first, taste, and add the rest if doing so would please your palate.
8 large carrots (about 2 pounds)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. caraway seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain low-fat Greek-style (strained) yogurt or 1 1/3 cup regular plain yogurt, strained through paper towel for at least 1 hour
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated with small-holed microplane
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
Extra chopped mint or dill for garnish
Baked pita chips, crackers, or sliced bread
Cook Carrots: Peel and roughly chop carrots. Using Microwave: Put in microwave safe dish with1 cup water and 1 tsp. salt. Microwave until carrots are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Using Regular Stove: Bring medium pot of salted water to boil. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Drain water from carrots and cool slightly.
Make Carrot Spread: Purée carrots in food processor or blender, scraping down sides from time to time. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. cayenne. Put carrot mixture in bowl. Crush cumin and caraway seeds in mortar and pestle. Stir crushed cumin, caraway, and freshly ground black pepper into carrots. Taste and add salt, lemon, or cayenne, as needed.
Make Garlic Yogurt: While carrots are cooking, mix yogurt, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, mint, and dill in bowl. Taste and add salt, garlic, lemon juice, or herbs, as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Assemble: Put carrot spread on serving plate and make well in the center. Spoon garlic yogurt into well. Garnish with chopped herbs and serve with sliced bread, baked pita chips, or crackers.