Sometimes, the simplest things are the best.
A really good espresso.
A perfectly ripe peach
Hot buttered toast.
Freshly squeezed orange juice.
And the same holds true for vegetables. If you buy the freshest and best you can afford, then you need to do very little to them to make them into something special.
One of the features of a palate that grew up in South Africa is an abiding love for sweetness in traditionally savoury dishes. We put sultanas in our curried mince dishes. We add peaches to our venison. We mash our pumpkin with cinnamon and sugar. And when we cook carrots, there has to be some sweetness involved.
When I cook carrots a la Mamma, this means melting and caramelising butter and sugar in a saucepan, then adding steamed carrots to give them a good coating of caramel before serving. But we all know variety is the spice of life, and I've been seeing a variety of tempting carrot recipes on various blogs lately – Too Many Chefs' cilantro carrots with cumin; Anne's slow-cooked carrots with thyme; and cumin-scented carrot fries from both Pille and Alanna.
In case you're into nutritional trivia, both cumin (Cuminum cyminum) and caraway (Carum carvi) are in fact the fruit of their respective plants, rather than the seed. Both are popular in Indian cooking and are surprisingly good sources of iron – if you eat enough! And of course, carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A, so this dish should keep both night blindness and anaemia a bay
So after being inspired by all these recipes and staying mindful of my deep-seated love of sweet carrots, I came up with this simple and delicious way to get a big taste out of my carrots – with very little effort or fuss. Enjoy!
CUMIN AND CARAWAY HONEY-ROAST CARROTS (serves 2)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
fleur de sel
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Scrub the carrots and cut into batons. Heat the honey a little so that it is very runny. Mix the olive oil, honey and cumin. Toss the carrots in this mixture and turn out into a shallow oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with the caraway seeds and roast in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes minutes until the carrots are browning slightly at the edges. Sprinkle with fleur de sel before serving. The carrots take on a lovely sweet and spicy flavour of honey and cumin, and the caraway seeds add both flavour and crunch. I served mine with sweet chili pork sausages, but how you serve yours is up to you