Sometimes I get a bit tired and bored of having my veggies the typical desi way - tadka and all. Last weekend while shopping for veggies, I spotted a selection of orange baby carrots. Now baby carrots is something you'll find at fine dining places in Delhi but rarely in markets, so I bagged some immediately, of course. I'm an onion freak too - onions in any form, red, white, spring, leeks, chives...so when I spotted a bunch of really tender onion stalks, with the onion flowers still on them, I bagged those too.
Then came the quandary - how to cook these? I didn't want to make a standard sabzi with the baby carrots - what would be the point - and didn't just want to use the onion stalks in a salad - same reason. So I pondered and racked my brain and at last hit upon it. I decided to make glazed carrots - having never had them before. It sounded different, at least, and would work for these small carrots. The onions, I decided to leave up to whatever inspiration hit me when I started my cooking.
So, having a vague idea that glazing involved cooking with sugar, I chopped the baby carrots into thirds (they weren't infant carrots that I could have cooked whole - more like toddler carrots) and dug out my trusty Amul butter. I love recipes that ask for cooking with butter.
Having coated all the carrots with melted butter, I put a lid on the frying pan to let the carrots steam while I chopped the onion stalks into 3 inch pieces. Since the butter was already out, it seemed like a good idea to cook the onion stalks with it too, so I popped a blob of butter in the frying pan and parked the onions in it and stirred them around.
Meanwhile, the carrots had been stewing in their own juices for a while so having checked to see if they were somewhat tender, I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of sugar over them and stirred them to mix up the sugar on all sides. The sugar started caramelizing and I stirred up the carrots some more to ensure they were nicely coated with melted sugar. When the carrots started browning, I added half a cup of water to the pan and popped the lid back on to let them simmer.
I turned back to the onion stalks to find that they had cooked nicely, still crisp with little browned bits here and there. I have had balsamic reductions at various restaurants so decided to try making it but without the bother of hunting for a formal recipe. So I pulled out my modena balsamic vinegar and poured a shot of it into the frying pan. that was fun but I wasn't satisfied, so I also added a glug of Shiraz which was sitting out on the counter, along with a sprinkling of freshly and coarsely ground black pepper. I stirred it around for a while until the wine and vinegar boiled away, leaving the onion stalks bright green and shiny with brown beads of moisture here and there.
Meanwhile, I opened the lid off the carrots and let the water evaporate. The carrots were nice and tender at this point, so I sprinkled a handful of chopped dill over them and brought the carrots and onion stalks to the table with a flourish. The carrots were juicy and sweet, with a caramelized-carrot flavour which was interesting, while the onion stalks were tender, and an interesting mixture of the sharp onion taste and crunchy texture combined with the sweet sourness of the balsamic vinegar and wine and the slow fire of the ground pepper. That, along with a mild cauliflower soup made for an interesting dinner, a composition of contrasting flavours and textures that played off each other really well.