Roasted Carrot, Turmeric, and Fresh Dill Pilaff, with a little tah-dig action

Cooking and eating our way through the mountain of carrots i mentioned a few days ago–the day of the two cool carrot soups–is actually a lot of fun. True, its a race against time and rot; but having the carrots there, in a pile that seemingly does not go down no matter how many carrots we eat, is kinda crazy-creative  in which my whole culinary world is carrot coloured. I look at whatever I feel like cooking and think: how can I make it more carrotty, can I put a carrot in that, or would this dish be better or worse if I made it with carrots instead of _________.

Once upon a time I wasn’t that fond of carrots, and thought them boring. I mean, a pot of chicken soup is nothing without a carrot, and roasted carrots around a pot roast is fabulous. Carrots are great–raw OR cooked–in a list so long its impossible to even begin. But I still wasn’t thrilled by them. Their sweetness was a little weird, and the texture, I mean: so ordinary. Truly, I was in the take-em-or-leave-em camp.

Yet one day a little more than a year ago,  I started to cross the bridge from once-okay carrot to freaking fantastic carrot. It might have started with Chef Nick Balla’s carrot smorebrod at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine. The carrots were roasted down to intensify their flavour, and infused with something so delicious I just had to close my eyes while I munched. The carrots were on a bed of tangy fromage frais spread on top of a dense rye bread from San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery.

Indian Chef London-based Mridula Baljekar got me kind of addicted to the combination of carrot and cardomom in a sweet carrot fritter-dumpling. And then, at the SF Chronicle Test Kitchen (the late, lamented) someone cooked chef Daniel Patterson’s coffee bean-smoked/infused carrots; I wasn’t completely sold on the combination until the vinaigrette was splashed on; THEN i was onboard with carrot creativity, big time. Bring it on!

Which brings us to here and to now. My mountain of carrots. my fabulous pilaff of roasted carrots cooked with rice, layered with turmeric and fresh dill, and cooked until the bottom crisps, making Persian tah-dig.

We ate it with chard pulled up from the garden five minutes before dinner, a cucumber salad, and uber-savoury Azerbaijan chicken kebabs: yogurt, onions, garlic, mint, saffron, and….paprika……marinated with the chicken for two days. Its wonderful. In fact, even though I hate the sort of well-balanced boring quality of a filled plate, below is my husband’s plate, about 2 minutes before he ate it.

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