Wednesday, June 22, 2011

spicy-sweet carrot-ginger jam/chutney

carrot jam is wonderful.

you can have it on toast. you can have it in a cocktail. you can make it into salad dressing. you can do that thing where you put it all over some goat cheese or cream cheese, like people do with jalapeño jelly in texas.

whatever you want to do with it, make it today!

this is how i cut up the carrots. i used 6 medium-sized carrots, which made like 3 cups-worth when diced. something like that, anyway. but yeah, you should dice them up. or you could probably use a food processor or grater or even buy pre-grated ones, if you like. i like the texture of the diced ones, though, and felt like chopping, so i went old school with it.

this shows all the spices i used. i think it is barely legible if your eyes are young or your computer is large. however, you can also look at it here. it is much better and easier to read that way.

you definitely do not have to use all of these spices. if you have them all, great. otherwise, use what you have. i happened to have lots of ginger, so i used powdered, fresh, and crystallized. one could also just use one of these. also, instead of ras el hanout and za'atar, you could use more cumin and cinnamon and maybe some dry thyme and/or oregano. it won't be exactly the same, but it should still be good.

by way of measurement, it's more a proportional thing, but that's a pretty small plate, so it was about a teaspoon or so of the larger amounts of spices, and maybe a tablespoon and a half of the crystallized ginger and like 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. i also used 1/4 of a lemon, cut up into smallish pieces (skin and all) and 1/4 - 1/3 cup of brown sugar. finally, i put in a few grape tomatoes, cut in 1/4s (maybe 8 or 9 tomatoes).

the main point is that this can be as complicated as you want - if you just want to make it with a few spices and no tomatoes, i think it would still be good. you could also add dried fruit if you like that sort of thing.

so. once you have all of your stuff chopped up and your spices gathered, heat up a smidge of oil in a saucepan (medium heat). then add the garlic and fresh ginger, if you're using that. after 30 seconds or so, add the spices and let them toast for a few seconds. things will start smelling exciting and exotic.

then add the carrots, sugar, lemon, tomatoes, etc. also some water - enough to cover the other ingredients, but not too much more than that. turn up the heat until it boils, then turn it down to medium-low and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are super tender and everything is nicely cooked down.

mine took a couple of hours or maybe an hour and a half or so. don't let this intimidate you though! it is mostly time in which you are not doing anything in particular with the carrots. you can watch an episode of murder, she wrote or read your new issue of sunset magazine or otherwise behave like an old lady. or you could do something hip. the old lady stuff's just what i did. you only have to stir it every 15 minutes or something. also you may need to add a little more water at times, if it is looking too dry. it's not a big deal.

once the carrots and lemon are soft and the tomatoes have kind of melted into the other stuff, use a potato masher to smush everything together. the lemon will be all soft and will just mix in with everything else easily. you can also use a food processor or immersion blender if you are not poor like me. although i do like the texture you get with the potato masher.

then let it cool and put it in a jar in the fridge. it should keep at least a week or so, i imagine.

and yes, i did put it in a gin & tonic and yes, it was delicious.

for a nice salad dressing, add a tablespoon of carrot jam to a couple of teaspoons of olive or other oil and a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard. add water to thin it out and that's it! it's good on those salads with cheese in them - like goat cheese or blue cheese and walnuts.

it would also make a fine sandwich spread for turkey or duck or a salmon burger or things of that nature.

you can also just eat it out of the jar.


  1. You crack me up....and inspire me. This recipe calls out my name as I have all but one of the spices. There is no ras al hanout (is that what it's called ) in my pantry, but plenty of the rest. I'm going to try this as a topping for brown rice, sounds delicious.
    Michelle T.

  2. Ok, I just finished making this. Absolutely wonderful recipe. I really like complex seasoning, but it seems like I get stuck and end up making curries when that's not really what I want. This blend was perfect.....complex, bold, and bright. I used a lot more carrots, a whole lemon and a lot less brown sugar. I also added dried cranberries towards the end. We had it as a savory side dish with grilled sausages. I ended up with six cups, so I' going to experiment to see how it freezes. So far I'm two for two with your recipes....thank you! Michelle T.

  3. thank you so much, michelle! i'm glad you enjoyed it. i think i cook in much the same way you do - taking basic ideas and changing things around a bit. i hope freezing it works - i haven't tried that.