Coleslaw and potato salad may be more famous outside of Southern takeout counters, but carrot raisin salad is just as common at picnics and potlucks. In it, grated carrots and plump raisins are mixed with a rich mayonnaise dressing spiked with curry powder. Donald Link's version in his new cookbook, Down South, stays true to the classic preparation. However, he gives the salad one important tweak: freshly made curry powder. Toasting and grinding the spices just before adding them to the dressing heightens their flavor, making this salad less of a forgotten side dish and more like a buffet star.
Why I picked this recipe: Despite seeing this salad everywhere when I was growing up, I had yet to see it pop up in a Southern cookbook.
What worked: Unlike many lackluster versions of the dish, Link's carrot raisin salad was vibrant, fresh, and light (even with all that mayo).
What didn't: I thought the curry powder was a bit cardamom-heavy, making the final dish just a smidge too floral. I'd back down on the cardamom seeds by half next time.
Suggested tweaks: Feel free to tweak the curry powder to suit your taste, or to use a high quality blend from the store. Just stay away from that dusty jar on the back of your spice rack.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.