On World Carrot Day, Chefs Weigh In On What Makes Carrot A Versatile Ingredient

April 4 is dedicated to the humble root veggie, carrots. On World Carrot Day, three chefs shared their insights on the household veggie.

by Sanjana Shenoy
On World Carrot Day, Chefs Weigh In On What Makes Carrot A Versatile Ingredient

World Carrot Day? Wait, is there an actual day to commemorate gajar, a veggie many of us have had a bitter-sweet (pun-intended) relationship since childhood? Guess what? April 4 is a day dedicated to carrots, the nutritious vegetable that proudly sits in the kitchens of desi households; coaxingly fed to children for its Vitamin A benefits; and devoured in copious quantities during the winter season in halwa and cakes. On World Carrot Day, Curly Tales asked renowned chefs in India about what makes this veggie a versatile ingredient. Moreover, what’s the secret sauce to making carrots palatable and exciting for children’s palates?

Cantonese Believe Carrots Bring Good Luck

world carrot day
From left to right: One8Commune’s Agnibh Mudi, Eight’s Sagar and Yauatcha’s Pradeep

While most of us have grown up eating carrots in sabzis, dunked in sambar or as the nation’s favourite, Gajar Ka Halwa, Curly Tales asked chefs why they think this veggie is a versatile ingredient.

One8Commune fame, Chef Agnibh Mudi states, “They can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups to main courses and even sides. They add natural sweetness and vibrant colour to whatever they are used in. Carrots can be eaten raw, steamed, roasted, or sautéed, providing different textures and flavours depending on how they are prepared.” What makes the vegetable versatile is not only its adaptable nature but also its great nutritional value believes the chef.

Chef Pradeep from Yauatcha Bengaluru attributes carrot’s versatile nature to its sweet flavour profile. He says, “Carrots in the Cantonese culture are considered to bring in good luck and are often used in the stir-fry section. It can be steamed, mashed or cooked with other ingredients. Its unique flavour profile being sweet and savoury makes it one of the most versatile ingredients.”

world carrot day
Picture Credits: Supplied (Yauatcha’s Shanghai Dumplings)

Carrots Have Come A Long Way…

As my perception of carrot changed over the years— from a vegetable I was forced to eat as a spectacled child to preparing carrot upkari (a lightly tempered carrot stir-fry from GSB cuisine) as a quick-fix comfort dish— I asked the chefs if their viewpoint on carrot has also seen a dramatic shift over the years.

Agnibh quips, “I feel carrots have come a long way from just being red or orange carrots or a particular size. They have been selectively bred over the years to enhance traits like colour, size, and taste. Black/purple/white carrots are grown on farms and are easily available for restaurants and food joints.”

Chef Sagar from Eight, Phoenix Mall of Asia replies, “Over the years, my appreciation for carrots has flourished, fueled by their unparalleled versatility and year-round availability. From humble beginnings, carrots have emerged as a culinary cornerstone, infusing a myriad of dishes with their distinct character and enriching textures. They stand as a testament to the boundless possibilities that await within the realm of culinary exploration.”

Also Read: Chef Vikas Khanna Shares Winter Special Carrot Turnip Cauliflower Pickle; Recipe Inside

How Can Parents Make Carrots Interesting For Kids?

And of course, we had to ask chefs the golden question— How can we make carrots interesting for kids?

“Some innovative ways to incorporate carrot is by adding carrot juice in the dough, steaming carrots and making an easy carrot cake. The kids love the crunch of the carrot and how mushy it can get with their oats,” says Pradeep from Yauatcha.

For One8Commune’s Agnibh Mudi, the magic lies in the way carrots are processed with the cooking. “Braising it in aromatic stock, roasting it in the oven with garlic, or even confiting it in butter or olive oil,” are some suggestions by the chef to make the veggie exciting for both kids and adults alike. He says, “Recently I incorporated carrots into a hummus, cooking the carrots with red lentils and blending them and it turned out great.”

world carrot day
Picture Credits: Supplied (One8Commune’s Carrot Hummus)

Sagar says, “At Eight, we embrace the challenge of transforming the mundane into the extraordinary. Take,
for instance, our Carrot Puff—a culinary masterpiece meticulously crafted to tantalize the senses.”

Picture Credits: Supplied (Eight’s Carrot Puff)

World Carrot Day: Chefs Reveal Favourite Carrot Dishes

And finally, we asked the chefs to spill the beans on their favourite carrot dishes on World Carrot Day. “Of course, Gajar halwa (carrot pudding) is at the top of my list,” quips Agnibh. Slow-roasted carrots with herbs and seasoning is a close second.

Also Read: 8 Unique Carrot Dishes From Across The Globe

For Sagar, Carrot Cake is his favourite carrot dish. “Its allure lies in the harmonious blend of moist, carroty goodness and luscious cream cheese frosting. Its perfect taste is sure to tantalize the senses,” he says.

So, how are you planning on celebrating World Carrot Day?

Cover Image Courtesy: Supplied (One8 Commune’s Chef Agnibh Mudi and Carrot Hummus)

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