December 19, 2007
Carrots! A favorite vegetable of the Bugs Bunny that hardly needs a description for they are well known and loved by every kid in the world! Carrots benefits are legendary. Bet you can hear every mother telling their kids that eating carrots would keep your eyesight bright and healthy.
Usually carrots are associated with the color orange, in fact, carrots grow in a host of other colors including white, yellow, red, or purple, the latter being the color of the original variety. The carrot is a plant with a thick, fleshy, deeply colored root that grows underground, and feathery green leaves that emerge above ground. Scientifically it is known as Daucus carota, a name that can be traced back to ancient Roman writings of the 3rd century.
Carrots belong to the Umbelliferae family, named after the umbrella like flower clusters that plant in this family produce. As such, carrots are related to parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill. There are over 100 different varieties that vary in size and color. Carrots can be as small as two inches or as long as three feet, ranging in diameter from one-half of an inch to over two inches. Carrot have a crunchy texture and a sweet and minty aromatic taste, while the greens are fresh tasting and slightly bitter.
Carrots are one of the most popular and well-loved vegetables. The taproot of the carrot plant is the part that's eaten, and it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Carrots are particularly rich in antioxidants, and are a wonderful way to add flavor and texture to many delicious vegetable recipes. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. Only 3% of the β-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. Alternatively they may be chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby foods. A well known dish is carrots julienne. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings.
In India carrots are used in a variety of ways, as salads or as vegetables added to spicy rice or daal dishes, and the most popular variation in north India is the Gaajar Ka Halwa a carrot dessert, which has carrots grated and cooked in milk until the whole thing is solid, after which nuts and butter are added. Carrot salads are usually made with grated carrots in western parts with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chillies popped in hot oil, while adding carrots to rice usually is in julienne shape or also made as carrot chutney to give a little spiciness to the carrots.
The combination of beetroot and spices makes this dish unique, tasty and also an ideal dish to tempt kids to eat. The fragrance of roasted fennel seeds spreads its aroma and taste nicely into the dish to give an amazing tang and punch to the gravy. The goodness of beetroot is that it contains no fat, has fewer calories and is a great source of fiber. Most of that beetroots taste sweeter and there is a particular variety called sugar beet which has a high concentration of sucrose.
Beets are considered to be highly nutritious and cardiovascular healthy root vegetables. They are also rich sources of magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C. Beetroot is effective in treating blood pressure, gastric ulcer, Cancer, gall bladder & kidney ailments and many more diseases.
Many of us actually are unenthusiastic to beetroot but we must commend the beets in terms of its flavor (having sweet, slightly earthy flavor), smooth and velvety texture and for the radiant dark red/ purple color or an appealing lurid pink color it gets when combined with cream or yogurt.
Listed below are some of the popular and my favourite carrot and beetroot dishes:
Gajar Halwa is made from fresh grated carrots and cooked in milk and ghee and garnished with nuts and raisins.
Carrot Cauliflower Pickle
Carrot & cauliflower pickle is a mixed vegetable pickle prepared by adding lemon juice and other spices. It is made of raw vegetable and seasoned with spices like the chilli powder, mustard powder, garlic etc. Has a nice tangy hot sweet crunchy pickle.
Simple Carrot Muffins
Muffins are great for breakfast on the go or as a late-morning snack. This one has lots of variations. Carrot muffins are one of healthy and delicious.
Carrot payasam or Gajar ka kheer is popular milk based Indian pudding which is easy to prepare and full of nutrition. Grated carrots cooked in ghee and milk garnished with fried nuts. Carrot payasam is a very healthy dessert rich in vitamin A and C.
Carrot Walnut Cake
Carrot walnut cake is an exceptional combination of cake made with carrot and walnuts mixed together in the cake batter and baked.
Grated Beetroot curry is a very simple preparation combined with onions, green chillies, grated beetroot and split yellow moong dal with spices. A dry vegetable which is popular among the South Indian Brahmin community is called a curry. Steamed and diced beetroots are seasoned with mustard seeds.
This an another variation of popular south Indian kurma which goes very well with parotas.
Beetroot paratha is a beautiful bright coloured paratha that is healthy and delicious to. Serve with curd, curries or chutneys.
Beetroot chutney is a yummy dish with a wonderful appearance and tastes excellent when mixed with hot rice or roti. This dish is deliciously made combining cubes of beetroot and fresh coconut, slightly stir fried and made to a coarse paste, later adding freshly roasted and ground Indian spices like dry red chillies, jeera, pinch fenugreek seeds etc and little sour tinge from the tamarind. Finally the chutney is tempered with mustard seeds, urad dal and fresh curry leaves. Urad dal gives a crunchy taste to the dish while eating.
Beetroot roti is amazing Indian flat bread made with whole wheat flour flavored with finely grated beetroot and spiced with Indian spices.
Beetroot Soup with Dumplings
Borsh is a traditional Russian soup prepared from beets and cabbage. It is usually served with a spoon of sour cream. There are over 40 varieties of hot and cold borsh that use different combinations of vegetables and meats. This is my grandmother's recipe, which is also, arguably, the best one.
Do try these delectable and appetizing health and nutritious recipes and encourage kids eating these dishes. To get hold of some of your favourite recipes, do click on: www.vahrehvah.com
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VahChef Sanjay Thumma
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