Gajar makhani – Indian-style butter carrot

Recipe appears in 

Serves 4-8

Curries are always better the next day, or even a few days afterwards. Most vegie curries, though, start to get mushy after a day or two – except this one. Carrots are the ideal density to last as long as you need them to, and soften just enough with heat to be perfectly al dente. Make your carrot chunks bite-sized, serve with steamed rice and naan bread and leave the cutlery in the drawer – this is hand food! Any left-over gravy is good enough to mop up with naan or roti bread. Or try mixing in some picked charcoal-roasted chicken meat for a quick and easy butter chicken, before or after the carrot is all gone.


50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (150 g) raw cashews
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
4 curry leaf branches, leaves picked (about 35–40 leaves)
1 bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves picked, stems and roots washed well and finely chopped
3 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon mild chilli powder
1 ½ cups (375 g) Greek-style yoghurt
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) carrots, peeled and cut into
3 cm (1 3/4 inch) pieces on the diagonal
1 tablespoon brown sugar
700 g (1 lb 9 oz) tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
1 cup (250 ml) coconut cream, plus extra to serve
steamed basmati rice, to serve
naan or roti bread, to serve


Heat the butter and oil in a wide saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the cashews and toss for 3 minutes, or until toasted and golden.


Add the garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until aromatic. Set aside half the cashew mixture for serving.


Add the coriander stems and spices to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until fragrant.


Stir in the yoghurt until combined, then add the carrot and stir to coat. Stir in the sugar, passata, coconut cream and 1 cup (250 ml) water and bring to a simmer.


Cover the surface of the curry with a cartouche (see tips) to stop the sauce cooking down too quickly – or you could partially cover the pan with a lid. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, or until the thickest piece of carrot you can find is fork-tender, and the gravy has thickened and reduced slightly.


Serve drizzled with extra coconut cream and scattered with the reserved cashew mixture and coriander leaves, with rice and naan or roti bread.


Creating a ‘cartouche’ out of baking paper encourages even, gentle cooking, without sweating. It’s handy for gentle poaching, and low-and-slow broth-making. Make a cartouche by folding a square-ish piece of baking paper into quarters, then cutting a rounded edge with scissors, to fit the diameter of your pot. Cut a little bit of the middle out, too, to make a little blow-hole for air to escape.


Fantastic naan and roti bread are readily available at Indian supermarkets. Look for ones with a short shelf life and not too many ingredients. Try popping them over some heat to take on an almost-authentic tandoor char, or into the toaster to crisp up a little.

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