Appetizer

Vadouvan-Scented Carrot Raita

Makes about 2 cups.

Savory Vadouvan balances & enlivens sweet carrots in this yogurt-based dip. Serve it with cooked vegetables, crudités, flatbreads, or hearty crackers.

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces), sliced in 1/8-inch-thick “coins”
4 teaspoons Vadouvan
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 lemon
Salt & black pepper
1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt

Chile flakes & nigella or black sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers add the carrots & stir them to coat with oil. Add a generous pinch of salt & pepper; cover the pan & cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan & stir the carrots; cover the pan again & cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender & slightly caramelized.

Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Vadouvan & cook for another minute or two. Stir in the zest & juice of half the lemon. Let the carrot mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

Put the carrots into the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Add the yogurt & remaining teaspoon of olive oil, plus another pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Taste, add more salt or more lemon juice, to taste. Before serving, garnish the top with a sprinkling of chile flakes & the nigella or sesame seeds.

[Sidebar]

Vadouvan is a masala (or curry) blend with colonial roots — it’s a sort of flavor mnemonic that evokes the taste of dishes eaten abroad more mildly recreated at home, in this case Pondicherry summoned in France. The blend includes aromatics such as onion & garlic. Key spices are fenugreek, cumin & shallots.