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.
Reprinted with permission from Down South: Bourbon, Pork, Gulf Shrimp & Second Helpings of Everything by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe. Copyright 2014. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:At least 1 hour and 20 minutes
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, preferably homemade (see below)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded (about 4 cups)
- 2 cups good-quality raisins
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced
- Homemade Curry Powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Heaping 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the curry, salt, cayenne, and lemon juice. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and parsley. Refrigerate for an hour or up to 4 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
To make the curry powder: Toast the cumin, cardamom, and coriander seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until the seeds are lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. Add the turmeric, mustard powder, and cayenne and mix to combine. Grind the spices in a coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.