The tree is finally decorated.*
I am spending Christmas Eve making something to take to my neighbor’s house tomorrow for Christmas dinner. They requested a side dish and, because I couldn’t decide which to make, I made two – a Moroccan carrot salad and a broccoli gorgonzola casserole. Both of these are make-aheads, which is exactly what I want so I can have a relaxed Christmas morning, which I hope will include a long soak in my giant bubble tub. The broccoli awaits the crumb topping and baking tomorrow, so here is the salad.
This recipe, originally from the New York Times, includes rose water, which can be gotten in some super markets and in Asian stores. Rose water is very evocative to me. I open the bottle and I am transported back to Mumbai, where I sit, sari-clad, on the flat roof of our apartment building. It is evening, and the other women in the building are also on the roof, eating bhelpuri (a puffed rice, cilantro and savories snack) and sweets scented with rose water. We laugh, talk, and tease one another in a brief respite from days spent cooking for husbands and tending children. The rose water in this salad is not very strong, but it gives the carrot a slightly mysterious flowery essence.
Moroccan Carrot Salad
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon rose water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sugar, optional
Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry pan over medium-high heat, shaking often to avoid burning, until just fragrant and slightly darker, about 3 minutes. Although the recipe did not call for it, I crushed the coriander and cumin in a mortar and pestle so the pieces in the salad would be smaller. I think you can use them either way.
Combine spices with remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. I added a tablespoon of sugar at this point because my carrots were not very sweet. Refrigerate, covered, for one hour or up to 24 hours. Stir before serving. Makes 6 servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.
*What, you may ask, is a nice Jewish girl doing with a Christmas tree? I have been collecting ornaments for over 40 years. It all started innocently with an ornament received as a gift, and now anyone who knows me will tell you I am obsessed. There are no lights on my tree to detract from my precious ornaments, and I hang each one and remember where I got it and why. It is like a memory book I open each Christmas.