Moorish Inspiration: Carrots Al-Andaluz

Anne Manson with one of the few Andalucian recipes that are influenced by the Moorish period.
By Anne Manson

From my terrace, you can look across to the North coast of Morocco. It always fills me with excitement when I think that that here I am in one continent, looking towards another continent, which is so close but yet so far away in terms of culture and cuisine.

It’s surprising really that there isn’t more of an influence on the cuisine here in southern Andalucia, given that the Moors lived here in Vejer for 600 years.  In 711, they invaded the south of Spain and called their land Al- Andaluz. They brought with them fruit trees of Pomegranates, Lemons, Oranges, Figs, Peaches & Apricots as well as Almonds, Saffron, Aubergines, Honey, Spices, Rice and so much more. When they were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, almost all traces of their cuisine went with them.

Just a few dishes with cumin seeds remain on the menu here, the most popular being a tapa of Carrots with Cumin & Garlic. I  LOVE this dish, not just because of the fantastic flavours but also because of its versatility. We  make it in class to serve  with BBQ’d Moroccan Chicken. It’s also fantastic with fish, pork and roast lamb too. Even just alongside a humble roast chicken. You can include it as part of a salad table, a beach picnic or even serve it with cocktail picks as it traditionally is, a tapa. The wonderful intense carrot flavour comes from boiling the carrots in their skins and then peeled when cool.  Don’t forget to toast your cumin seeds (dry fry in a pan) to bring out their flavour. Always serve this dish at room temperature and never straight out of the fridge. The spiciness comes from the garlic.

Carrots Al-Andaluz
 
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A taste of Andalucia - Spicy Carrots with Toasted Cumin Seeds & Garlic, a Moorish influenced side dish for Summer BBQ's & Picnics
Author:
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Side Dish
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1kg of carrots gently scrubbed
  • 2 cloves of garlic (root removed) finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted Cumin Seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Sherry Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley for sprinkling on top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pop carrots in a pan and cover with water.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of salt.
  3. Boil until tender approx 20 minutes – test by using a table fork.
  4. Drain and leave to cool. Will cool faster if spread on a tray or chopping board in a single layer.
  5. Peel when able to hold by scraping skin towards you by using a small sharp knife.
  6. Slice on the diagonal and place in bowl or serving dish and mix with remaining ingredients.
  7. Buen Provecho!
3 Comments
    1. Maybe it depends on what angle you take? During my two years in Andalucia, except for saffron and sometimes (rarely) cumin, I feel like I didn’t see as many of the typical spices that I would normally associate with Moorish cuisine as I would have expected. I was therefore also under the impression that the hands-on recipe influence wasn’t very obvious today. But if you take into account more procedural things like the use of lentils, chickpeas and bread in stews & soups – and perhaps even the rituals surrounding dinner (sharing food) – I guess that it’s very much still there.

    2. Where I am in Andalucia, there really is very little around with a Moorish influence, apart from the occassional use of cumin. Of course, this is comparing modern day dishes. Paella came to Spain via the Berbers but is now considered to be Spanish but there is very little similarity between modern day Andalucían and modern day Moroccan cuisine in terms of spices.

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