Diana Henry’s Uzbeki Carrots

Diana Henry’s Uzbeki Carrots Recipe

This is the most interesting carrot recipe I've tried in a long time, and I'll start by attempting to explain why. In a single bite, you realize these carrots are drunk with a cooking liquid infused with fragrant spices like saffron, cumin, and cinnamon. They take on pops of sweetness because they are punctuated by dried fruit. Deep savory flavor balances out the sweetness and is developed through a lengthy simmer incorporating caramelized onions and tomatoes. You hit spots of fresh, green herbaceousness from mint, and chiles, and cilantro, and then crunch here and there from pistachios. I loved these carrots on their own. I loved them over fregola pasta (with yogurt). I loved them on sandwiches, and folded into toasted pita along with lots of arugula and shredded hard-boiled egg.

Backing up a bit, in addition to Anna Jones' A Modern Way to Eat, I've been cooking from Diana Henry's insightful A Change of Appetite over the past couple of weeks. That's where I came across her Uzbeki Carrot recipe. I've been cooking from Diana's books for a very long time - I think it was first Crazy Water Pickled Lemons, and then Roast Figs Sugar Snow. You know with a glance at any of her books that Diana loves bold flavor, and satisfying preparations, and she also clearly appreciates and draws inspiration from the foodways of traditional cooks and cultures. I think that's a part of why I am drawn to her work. The photography in this beautiful book was shot by Laura Edwards.

Diana Henry's Uzbeki CarrotsDiana Henry's Uzbeki CarrotsDiana Henry's Uzbeki CarrotsDiana Henry's Uzbeki CarrotsDiana Henry's Uzbeki CarrotsDiana Henry's Uzbeki Carrots

While the ingredient list isn't short, you likely have a good amount of it on hand. And if you don't, it's a forgiving recipe that lends itself to substitutions. Fresh tomatoes not in season? Use canned whole tomatoes, I did. Don't have dried currents? Use chopped raisins - or I had dried pluots - they become tart sweet gems punctuating the dish. I love this recipe even more because it sparked all sorts of other ideas as I was letting the carrots simmer down. Imagine a pureed carrot soup with this flavor profile - topped with a dried fruit compote, swirl of yogurt, and lots of fresh herbs. Or doing a version with wedges of skin-on kabocha squash. Or work the carrots into a dumpling filling (perhaps with red lentils?) with the spices in a dipping sauce.

You can find more of Diana's work highlighted here in the Los Angeles Times, on Amazon, Leite's Culinaria, and on Diana's site. Also, here's her beautiful Date, Apricot, and Walnut Loaf Cake. Enjoy! -Heidi

Diana Henry's Uzbeki Carrots

Rather than buy dried currants, I substituted some dried pluots I had on hand.

3 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges (or canned equivalent if tomatoes are out of season)

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green serrano chiles, seeded and shredded
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and black pepper
10 carrots (about 1 1/4 lb.) cut into batons, or thin rounds
1/2 cup dried currants, or other dried fruit
1 tablespoon dried barberries (optional)
1/4 teaspoon saffron stamens
1 1/2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey, or to taste

1 tablespoon shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

to serve: salted yogurt, chopped green onions, cilantro and/or mint leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion over medium heat until golden brown, then add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and chiles and cook for another minute, then the cinnamon and cumin and cook for another minute. Add a couple pinches of salt and pepper, and then add everything else, except the pistachios and herbs, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the carrots until completely tender, 20-25 minutes. The mixture should remain moist but not be swimming in juice. If it gets too dry, add a little more water. If it is too sloppy, turn up the heat and boil off some of the liquid.

Taste for seasoning and balance; the mixture should be sweet and savory. Serve topped with a generous dollop of yogurt, the pistachios, herbs, and green onions.

Serves 4-6.

Adapted from A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious, published by Mitchell Beazley (June 2014)

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • Heidi - I've always thought barberries were currants but this recipe lists both. What is the difference and what can i sub for them? I discovered Diana Henry via her cookbook 'Plenty' and have since tried to collect them all. She is a funny lady and it's great fun to listen to her interviews as well as read her books.

    Sally
  • Yum, can't wait to try this. What would the flavour profile of barberries be for someone down Australia way who's never tasted them?

    Eadie
  • Sounds and looks delicious, I have a huge bag of organic carrots and I wasn't sure what to do with them, now I know! Such a lovely mixture of ingredients.

    Annie
  • I love Diana Henry's work but had overlooked these amazing sounding carrots. Thank you for pointing them out, Heidi. I'm headed to the kitchen right now to make them.

    deborah madison
  • Such an interesting, fun combination of flavors. Must try!

    Ciao Florentina
  • You used 7 photographs yet failed to say who created them. Who was the photographer?

    HS: Hi Terry - Laura Edwards did the gorgeous photography, I've linked her up above.

    Terry Thomas / Food Photographer / Atlanta
  • I've been collecting Diana Henry's books over the years, too. I always feel like I've been away exploring the world when I browse through them. And the photography and styling is just beautiful. Thanks for pointing out this delicious recipe.

    Karen
  • Wow, wow, wow!!!!!! I'll be making these this weekend and cannot wait!!! Even better is your idea for leftovers--- fold them into a pita with arugula and hard boiled eggs. Yum!!!! Thank for you for continuing to inspire us. I've been loving your stuff for years and years!!!!!

    Sarah
  • Thank you for sharing this and will definitely look out for the cookbook, but meanwhile... cant wait to try these yummy sounding carrots!!!

    Patricia
  • Wow! to both the carrots with their wonderful list of ingredients and to your most inviting description of them. I can't wait to make them. And thank you for introducing me to the world of Diana Henry.

    Janice
  • I'm in! Your description makes these carrots sound so compelling that I can't wait to give them a try!

    Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
  • What a beautiful cookbook. There is just no end to people's creativity with food, and thank god for it.

    Maja
  • The pictures in that book look incredible and I love your description - those carrots sound amazing! I think I'll be trying them out this weekend! xx Becky

    Becky Kozak
  • Roast Figs Sugar Snow is one of all time favorite cookbooks. Excited to find that she has another out.

    J
  • wow diana these food look amazing - you have a wonderful gift.

    roseable
  • Look very good...don't know if Dad will eat them, but I am going to make them.

    becky wyse
  • Again, I am gobsmacked - this is amazing! I love how saffron holds such a strong flavour and yet works so well in both sweet and savoury cooking and baking. This dish is so versatile, and I cannot even try to imagine the flavour combination... I want this! x

    Jules @ WolfItDown
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