Cool, crispy carrot and coriander salad

20080806 CarrotCorianderSalad

OK, will this little island that I live on please make up its mind as to what the weather is going to be doing??

After a pretty chilly and rainy start to the week, yesterday was just mad.  I left for work under cool, cloudy skies, clutching my cardigan and my umbrella.  I came outside at lunchtime to find the skies were still cloudy but that the temperature was pretty balmy.  But when I came home from work and stepped onto the Tube, it felt like stepping into a sauna.  A sauna full of people who have spent a full day working in these sweat-stained clothes.  Tasty.

I got home to find that, despite the persistent cloud cover, the 10 tons of insulation in our ceiling was still diligently doing its job and retaining all available heat, so the house was equally toasty.  Oh, for the luxury of a swimming pool!!

And to make matters worse, as it was Nick’s gran’s last night with us, I had given her a choice of what she wanted to have for dinner and she’d chosen a curry, so I could look forward to time spent in the kitchen over bubbling pots.  Doubly toasty!

What to do, what to do?  I knew that by the time I sat down I would be craving something to cool me down, and I also knew that we needed a counterpoint to the creamy chicken curry – preferably something that required no cooking!  A quick trawl through the fridge revealed some carrots and coriander/cilantro.  Usually I would have kept these with a view to turning them into a soup, but I figured that if their tastes worked well together in a soup, surely a salad would work equally well?  And I challenge you to find any vegetable more cooling that crispy, raw carrots…

I never know whether to refer to “cilantro” or “coriander” in my recipes.  I grew up calling it coriander, and calling the seeds coriander seeds to distinguish which part of the plant you were talking about in a particular recipe.  Turns out that the confusion came about because the British decided to go with the French name for the herb (coriandre from the Latin coriandrum); while the Americans decided to go with the Spanish name for the herb (cilantro, possibly from the Mediaeval Latin celiandrum, or a corruption of culantro which describes a related but different herb).  Maybe I should go with the Indian cooking term instead – dhania.  Either way – you say coriander, I say cilantro; you say dhania, I say delicious! (Although not everyone agrees – see this post I wrote previously about the strong feelings coriander generates!)

The end result was pleasing both to the eye and the palate.  Somehow, slicing carrots this thinly emphasises this delicate sweet flavour, while the coriander, raspberry vinegar and garam masala added bite; and the green coriander leaves looked fantastic against the orange carrots.

Crispy, cool, delicious – and easy!  Try it while the weather holds…



4 large carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 large handful of fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
3-4 Tbsp raspberry (or other sweetish) vinegar
1/4 tsp garam masala


Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, slice the carrots very thinly lengthways into ribbons.  Wash the coriander leaves and remove from the stems.  Tear or roughly snip them over the carrots.  Toss the carrots and coriander together with the vinegar and garam masala.  Fantastic when served with curries, but would also make a lovely summer salad on its own.

BeatTheHeatLogo I am submitting this dish to Grace of A Southern Grace, who is hosting Beat the Heat – an event featuring cool, uncooked dishes for coping with a blistering summer.

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  1. says

    oh I LOVE coriander just as much as you do. can’t get enough of it. in fact, coriander and mint are the herbs that i sorely miss when i am in austria… but then, they give me maggikraut instead.
    we have had two very hot weeks here and a thunderstorm is going down outside as a write, bringing some much-needed cool air. england doesn’t do those… that’s a real shame. more smelly armpits tomorrow, i guess?
    btw, i still can’t vote… but do think your story rocked!

  2. says

    I have been terrible at keeping up with blogging in all its forms, but trying to get back. Great dish, I am in love with cilantro, after Vietnam even more. Really like the bright colors of the carrot with the splashes of green cilantro here.

  3. says

    I have been terrible at keeping up with blogging in all its forms, but trying to get back. Great dish, I am in love with cilantro, after Vietnam even more. Really like the bright colors of the carrot with the splashes of green cilantro here.

  4. says

    oh me. this is just so simple and so appropriate for summer. it’s perfect for my event and for my cilantro-loving palate. thanks again for sending it to me! :)

  5. says

    It’s amazing isn’t it, how some people really hate the taste of coriander yet others can’t get enough. For me it’s the latter. I think we should re-name it the Marmite of herbs. I agree there is nothing more refreshing than cool, crunchy carrots and I love the way you have shave them into thin ribbons. I bet this was lovely with curry actually. I might experiement with adding yoghurt and making a sort of carroty raita. ooh! I agree about the weather – um, what?! How is a lady supposed to choose footwear in these conditions? I was hoping to settle into my usual lazy option of wearing flip flops every day. There have been many wet feet + London grime = black feet situations.

  6. says

    I’ve given up cooking curries myself in favour of lighter summery dishes. If only the weather chose to play ball. The salad looks lovely – I’m from the coriander staple and there’s always a bunch in my fridge.

  7. says

    A carrot based salad sounds good. It is nice and simple and with the cilantro and garam masala it sounds tasty. I tend to call it cilantro though sometimes I find myself calling it coriander.

  8. says

    That’s London weather for you…how true! there is something abour Gran’s & curries…I went through something similar in June with my Mom’s elder sister…& she asked for, hold your breath, BUTTER CHICKEN!! I was thinking a simple stir-fried something…LOL! Love the salad, & was trying to get into the bottom of the bowl to get to that yummy bit! Great great salad, refreshing & flavourful. I can’t seem to get enough of dhania/coriander too! Am releived they are all the same leaf…used to think dhania is some distant country cousin of the exotic cilantro!! Beautiful post Jeanne!

  9. says

    AT LAST and idea! Somehow I always find something here – whenever I’m stumped you are where I go ….. hehe
    I have to find things that I can do whilst sitting at a bar stool in the kitchen, so this is just perfect. The knee will take a while to heal, yet. I put a chicken in an oriental marinade last night for roasting tonight, but I could not think what do do – in typical South African fashion, the winter weather dissolved overnight and today is one of those Sundays I always miss when I live in Europe, no matter which country I’m in. (Oops, sounds awfully snotty – I’m half Italian and Lisa, my daughter, lives in Germany – go figure ….)
    Now, potatoes, rice????

  10. says

    This looks wonderful and crisp and refreshing, and best of all, is a salad which can be made at pretty much any time of the year. Bonus: It would make a GREAT sandwich, like Bahn Mi. This salad on a toasted roll, with some grilled fish or meats, would be exceptionally good. Thanks for the idea and recipe.