Long, orange and crunchy, carrots are the icon of healthy foods and they truly deserved to have a day of their own. April 4 marks International Carrot Day and what better way to celebrate this nutritious vegetable with a variety of delicious recipes and tidbits.
One interesting fact is that Turkey actually had a place nicknamed the “Town of Carrots” – namely Beypazarı in Turkey’s capital Ankara. The town even has a carrot statue in the district square but the reason it got the name is mainly that 70% of Turkey’s carrots are grown there.
A classic: Carrot cake
Carrot cake: an airy, delicate classic that comes in tones of pastel oranges and yellows. Pairing the cake with some whipped cream and some marzipan decorations (preferably in the shape of carrots as well), this simple cake can easily be elevated to be quite eye-catching.
- 4 eggs
- 270 grams sugar
- vanilla extract or sugar
- 220 grams flour
- 10 grams baking powder
- 2 big carrots (more can be added)
Whisk the eggs and the sugar together until they turn light and fluffy. Add the kind of vanilla you prefer (pure extract or vanilla sugar) and mix in a separate bowl the flour and the baking powder. Sift these into the egg mixture and mix until they are completely incorporated. Peel and grate your carrots and fold them into the dough but avoid mixing too much so as not to beat all the air out of the dough. Pour the batter into a baking tin of your choice, I usually use a 25-centimeter (10-inch) springform, which makes it rather flat. Bake the cake at 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30 minutes, or longer if you prefer to have your cake in a deeper pan. Let the cake cool of and enjoy!
A meze: Carrot tarator
Carrots are great for human health but did you know that scientists even thought of putting them into buildings? While this does sound intriguing, the variety of dishes made with carrots usually lean more heavily on the sweeter side due to its own sweet-ish flavor. But paired with some savory Turkish yogurt, it makes for a great meze.
- 2-3 carrots
- 250-300 grams yogurt
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- vegetable oil
Peel and grate the carrots and sautee them with a small amount of olive or vegetable oil until the carrots soften. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Once softened, turn the heat off and let the carrots cool off. Mix the yogurt, finely chopped or crushed garlic, olive oil and salt, stirring the carrots into the mix. Let it sit for a bit to allow the carrots and garlic to release their amazing flavor. Serve cold.
Adding crushed walnuts into this dip gives it a different texture and makes it tastier.
If you have some extra virgin olive oil at hand, drizzle some olive oil on top.
My eyesight hasn’t been the best and I was always told to eat carrots to improve my eyes. I thought it was purely a myth but apparently, they do help with eyesight, but just aren’t as powerful to heal nearsightedness.
- 8-9 carrots
- 1-2 onions
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 200 milliliters heavy cream
- salt, pepper, nutmeg
Chop the onion and dice the garlic as finely as possible. Sautee them on low heat until the onions start to soften. Peel and chop the carrots into small pieces and add them to the onions and sautee as well. Pour water or vegetable stock over them, season to your liking and let the whole mix cook until the carrots have adequately softened. Once cooked, run the soup through a blender and add in the heavy cream. Bring the soup to a boil once more and turn the heat off.
You can enhance the flavor of this soup by adding a tablespoon of pepper or tomato paste while sauteeing the onions.
For another sweet find, this time we are going the traditional Turkish route. I introduce you to the candy of the southern province of Mersin. Usually in the shape of flat sheets, although they can be in balls or cubes, these are semi-gelatinous and contain different nuts, topped off with plenty of shredded coconut. Let’s see how you can make your very own at home.
- 6-7 carrots
- 130 grams sugar
- 100 milliliters water
- 100 grams pistachios/hazelnuts/walnuts
- 1 pinch of clove
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 1 pinch of turmeric
- 1 pinch of ginger
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon starch (dilute with a bit of water)
- 200 grams shredded coconut (or more)
Peel the carrots and chop them into small pieces and cook them with the water until they have softened. Run the carrots through a blender or smash them with a fork. Add sugar to the smushed carrots and start cooking them on low heat, constantly stirring. Pour the honey and add all the spices in as well. Add the starch that has been diluted with a tiny bit of water and continue cooking until the water evaporates and the carrots turn thick. Add in the peeled pistachios (or any other nuts you prefer) and give it a last good mix to incorporate them thoroughly.
Spread half of the shredded coconut in your baking tin of choice, preferably one that is rectangular in shape, and pour the carrot mixture onto it. Spread it with the back of a spoon to even it out. Try to have it about half a centimeter thick. Do not have it too thick. Spread the rest of the coconut over it and let it cool to room temperature. Let it cure in the fridge for an hour and cut into your desired shape and size and serve!