A sparkling, summery Curried Indian Carrot Salad with cherry tomatoes and a tempering of curry leaves, mustard seeds and turmeric. Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free with just 36 calories per serving.
This Curried Carrots Salad with Cherry Tomatoes is summer on a plate. It is bright, fresh and healthy, with bold flavors that grab your tastebuds and make them do a happy dance.
The salad itself is made in an Indian style, with a tempering of curry leaves, black mustard seeds, red pepper flakes and turmeric. On top of it all goes a spritz of fresh lemon juice. The flavors balance out perfectly with the sweetness of the carrots and tomatoes, the spice of red pepper flakes, and the tang of the lime.
There is some cooking in this recipe, mainly to make the carrots tender and tantalizing and to also for the tempering, of course. But the cooking’s done in under 10 minutes, so you’re not spending a ton of time over the hot stove.
So let’s jump in!
Does it matter how you prep your carrots?
It does, because it’ll make all the difference to how fast or slow your carrots cook, the look of your dish, and the flavor. I like to cut the carrots into coins, but that said, I also sometimes grate it. Grating the carrot, IMO, gives you less carrot flavor, in case you prefer that. The carrots also cook much faster. But I do love the pretty look of the coins.
When you grate the carrots, this recipe resembles a kosambari, which is a how you’d describe, in parts of India, a salad made with cucumbers, carrots or other veggies by grating them, then tempering them with spices. Growing up, we ate lots of kosambari because it’s a popular dish in the south Indian state of Karnataka, where my father comes from.
I cut the carrots into very thin rounds, about an eighth of an inch, which not only makes it easy to cook them quickly, it also gives the carrots a silky texture with just a slight bite that’s quite wonderful.
Do you need cherry tomatoes or will another kind do?
They will, but I just love the look of the cherry tomatoes in here. The dish looks even prettier when you have red or purple tomatoes, which add more color. The only kind I had were yellow and orange, and they kinda merge into the carrots, especially when photographed.
If you use regular tomatoes, cut them into long, thin strips and deseed them first.
How long does it take to put this recipe together?
15 minutes, I promise. Especially if you’re using a food processor to slice your carrots, and if you have one, why would you not? The processor does a much better job of cutting even, thin slices and it takes under a minute to slice four carrots. If you’ve got knife skills to top that, I am jealous. And can you come be my kitchen helper please?
Ingredients for the Curried Carrot and Cherry Tomato Salad:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Coconut oil
- Black mustard seeds
- Asafetida (optional)
- Curry leaves
- Red pepper flakes
- Lemon juice
What do you serve this salad with?
This is the kind of side that’s versatile enough to go with almost anything you’re planning on serving. A burger, a tofu or tempeh steak, a pizza, a pasta, a stew, a dal…it’s all good eats with this salad on the side.
Now that we’ve got all of that sorted out, let’s go to the recipe. It’s easy, I promise you, and if you try it, you’ll love it.
Curried Carrot and Cherry Tomato Salad
- Food processor (optional)
- 4 medium carrots (cut into 1/8th inch rounds. This is easily done in a food processor)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved or, if too big, quartered
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- A pinch asafetida (hing, optionl)
- 1 spring curry leaves (chopped -- while curry leaves are usually left whole, chopping them makes them easier to eat in this dish)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (use more or less according to your tolerance)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp cilantro (finely chopped, for garnish)
- Heat the oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds and asafetida, if using. Once the mustard crackles and sputters, add the curry leaves and stir-fry for a minute. Then lower the heat to the lowest setting and add the turmeric and red pepper flakes. (Whenever you do an Indian tempering, it's a good idea to have your vent fan on).
- Quickly stir in the turmeric and red pepper and add in the carrots with salt to taste. Mix well and cover the skillet with a lid.
- Cook five minutes or until the carrots are tender enough to your taste. Turn off the heat and stir in the cherry tomatoes. Check if you need more salt and add if necessary.
- Spritz on the lemon juice and mix well. Garnish with cilantro, and serve.