One of my favorite things about living in Istanbul is the amazing variety of produce found at the local markets. Unlike America, where farmer's markets tend to be more expensive, Istanbul street markets are a location where you can score vegetables fresh from the surrounding villages for a fraction of the price. Last week, I bought all that I could carry home with me for about 7 USD. Pretty amazing! Well one the favorite things I scored this week were some amazing purple carrots! They are a beautiful deep purple on the outside and fade into a tie died looking purple white on the inside. To show off their splendor I chose to whip up a “Crazy Carrot Salad” for lunch.
The main thing I like about carrots is their subtle sweetness, even when raw. Raw carrots are a great low calorie way to get some crunch into your diet. Carrots are a particularly good swap for my blood sugars, instead of crackers and chips, with snacks like Hummus. So, to my sugar conscious friends out there, happy guilt free crunching… in purple, white OR orange!
Origin: Mediterranean, Southwest Asia
Symbolic Significance: Blood
The Buddhist Myth of Mu Lien
In ancient Buddhist myth, the remarkable depth of color of the purple carrot comes from the blood of Buddha Mu Lien’s fingers. While alive, Mu Lien’s mother ate and killed with no regard to the life she was consuming. She was then sent to the underworld after her death. While his mother was indulgent, Mu Lien was a pious young man who was a devout worshiper of God. He eventually became a Buddha and used his power to enter the underworld to rescue his mother.
Unfortunately, the moment she came to the surface, she quickly pulled some white carrots from the earth and devoured them. Mu Lien, afraid that his mother would be condemned to damnation for the rest of eternity, cut off his own finger and placed it into the earth. The blood from his finger seeped into the surrounding carrots and hence, purple carrots were created.
Ancient Carrot Salad
2 purple carrots
2 orange carrots
4oz of Goat Cheese
Fresh Middle Eastern Orange Dressing
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 or 4 TBS of Tahini
Cayenne pepper to taste [optional]
1. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise into long thing slices
2. First peel the carrots and discard the skins. Continue peeling the carrots into long strips [looks like spaghetti]. Be sure to keep the purple and orange separated.
3. Assemble the salad by first putting down the cucumber slices and then layering the orange carrot strips and the purple carrot strips. Sprinkle with fresh goat cheese.
4. Dressing = Mix all ingredients together and serve on the side of the salad.