Roasted Parsnips & Carrots with Beet Raita

Roasted Parsnips & Carrots with Beet Raita

Parsnips are originally from Eurasia, a landmass combining eastern parts of Europe and Asia. The root vegetable served as a vital food source until the potato was discovered in the New World. I had never seen a parsnip until I came to North America, and at first I did not like the taste of them, especially raw. However, when cooked or roasted, the distinct peppery, slightly nutty and sweet flavors of these nutrient-packed tubers come to center stage. When paired with carrots for a sweet compliment, they lend themselves so well to spices! I have grown to love parsnips and strive to discover new ways to use them during the winter. Ajwain, a spice native to India, pairs beautifully with parsnips. In some areas, ajwain is known as “bishop’s weed” or “carom.” It is a small roundish seed with distinct, pungent flavors of oregano with an aroma reminiscent of thyme. You can sprinkle it over roasted potatoes, fish or meats. Raita is the cooling companion on an Indian table, usually prepared in a minimally spiced way. It can also work as a dip — as it does here with the ajwain-dusted parsnips.

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