Meet your new favorite side dish; this Turkish carrot salad coated in garlicky yogurt (and drizzled with a finger-licking spicy butter sauce)!
SIMPLE RECIPES ARE THE BEST
A Turkish carrot salad is (as for most Turkish recipes): 1/ super good, but also 2/ super simple! All you need is to cook sliced carrots until softened, mix in a few ingredients for the yogurt sauce and then melt butter for a spicy drizzle to top it all up.
The spicy butter sauce is a cornerstone of Turkish cuisine and is added on top of multiple meals, from mercimek çorbası (lentil soup) to mantı (small meaty dumplings). So to put it on your Turkish carrot salad is not far-fetched but it should be done more often because it’s super good. I don’t think there is a child who could resist eating his/her veggies if they are covered with this yogurt sauce (at least not a Turkish child).
You should cut your carrots as uniformly as possible to be sure that they’ll cook evenly. You can cook the carrots and mix them in the yogurt and keep it the fridge for up to 3 days in advance. However, you should do the spicy butter sauce just before serving. It really is what makes this Turkish carrot salad come together beautifully and the hot sauce with cold yogurt contrast is a must. If you use Greek yogurt instead of Turkish yogurt, it might congeal so add 1 tsp of cold water to loosen it up before whisking.
I don’t think there is anything more comforting than the combination of minced garlic and yogurt! It’s no surprise than Turkish people eat this delicious sauce with pretty much everything. And after living in Turkey, I pretty much do the same thing. One of the most popular ‘mezze’, that you’ll see at every family gathering is a version of this Turkish carrot salad. It’s made with cooked grated carrots, a garlicky yogurt sauce, and dill. Maybe one day I’ll also post this recipe, which is more traditional.
I (re)created this version of havuç tarator (Turkish carrot salad) specifically for my husband who prefers it this way. Whenever I was making the traditional version you could be sure he was going to say ‘It’s good, but you know when I was a child I used to go eat at a friend’s place and his mum would cut the carrots this way and adds a spicy buttery sauce, I really liked it, it’s the only place I ever ate it, blablablabla’. I don’t know how many times I heard that story so partly because I loved my husband, and partly because I hate hearing ‘It’s good BUT’ whenever someone tastes my food, I decided to recreate his childhood’s Turkish carrot salad and I’ve got to say, it’s delicious! After all, I’ve got to see the day when a recipe wouldn’t be improved by adding butter.
Sweet carrots meet salty sauce, spicy pul biber meets minced garlic, hot melted butter meets cold tangy yogurt, it’s heaven! I admit to having licked the plate multiple times after being done because the sauce is thaaat good. It’s so savory that it reminds me of a cheese dip. And since I don’t have a food processor anymore, not having to grate carrots by hand to make a Turkish carrot salad really is time-saving.
➝ How to substitute Turkish yogurt? I encourage you to try the real thing but seriously I get it if you want a substitute. Not everyone has a Turkish store nearby, and even if you do, going there just to buy a specific type of yogurt is a bit ludicrous. So you can use strained full-fat Greek yogurt from wherever you usually shop, as it is more widely available than Turkish yogurt. The taste will be slightly different because Greek yogurt is creamier and less tangy, but I’m sure your Turkish carrot salad will still be delicious!
➝ How to substitute pul biber (also called Aleppo pepper)? You would definitely find it if you go to a Turkish store. It’s great, used widely in Turkish cuisine, and lasts forever stored in the fridge. BUT if you can’t go to a Turkish store or you don’t want to order it online (shipping fees are usually as expensive as the product itself) you can substitute it with chili flakes. I would recommend the mild sweet kind so as not to overpower the flavors of the Turkish carrot salad.
AHEAD OF TIME
➝ Can you cut up carrots ahead of time? You can slice the carrots up to 1 week before making the Turkish carrot salad. Store them in a freezer bag or in an airtight container. They will dry up a bit over time so if you keep them for that long, place a damp paper towel under the sliced carrots.
➝ Can Turkish carrot salad be made ahead of time? Absolutely! You can keep it for up to 3 days in the fridge. I personally find it more flavorful when it’s cold. However, the spicy butter sauce will harden in the fridge so if this texture puts you off:
- Heat up the Turkish carrot salad in a non-stick skillet over low heat, stirring often until the butter is completely melted again.
- Follow the recipe up to the th step (basically, store the yogurty carrots without having made the butter sauce). The day you want to serve the Turkish carrot salad, take it out of the fridge, place it into a serving dish and leave it on the counter while you make the butter sauce. Once ready, drizzle over the yogurty carrots and serve.
Got any leftover yogurt? Here are some of my favorite Turkish recipes to use it up:Print
Meet your new favorite side dish; a Turkish carrot salad (and a finger-licking spicy buttery sauce)! Cooked carrot salad is a staple of Turkish cuisine for all the right reasons; it’s simple, quick and delicious.
- 250g carrots, about 3 medium carrots
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 150g Turkish yogurt (⅔ cup) (or use full-fat Greek yogurt)
- 1 big garlic clove
- 1 tsp salt
- 15g butter (1 tbsp)
- ½ tsp pul biber (mild chili flakes)
- Cook the carrots. Peel the carrots, then cut them into round slices, approximately 5mm (⅕ in) thick. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over low heat and add the sliced carrots once hot. Cover the pan and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the carrots are wilted but not browned. It should take about 25 min.
- Make the yogurt sauce. Peel and thinly chop the garlic. Pour the yogurt into a mixing bowl. Add the garlic to the yogurt along with the salt. Mix until the yogurt is smooth. When the carrots are ready, gently stir them into the yogurt sauce with any leftover cooking juice.
- Make the butter sauce. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the pul biber and cook for 1 min, stirring constantly. Pul biber can burn pretty quickly so be careful. Drizzle the carrot salad with the delicious spicy butter sauce and serve straight away.
Can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 236
Keywords: cooked carrot salad, vegetarian mezze platter, turkish side dish