Carrots, commonly known in Morocco as khizzou or zroudia, are widely used in Moroccan cooking, ranging from starters to juices to main dishes. This cooked carrot salad with chermoula is a family favorite on a Fassi (Fez) table during lunch time. In Morocco we refer to it as Khizou Mchermel in its chunky version, or caviar or zaalouk of carrot in its coarsely mashed version. It is very easy to prepare, can be made ahead of time and served later as a side dish.
Ways to Make Moroccan Carrot Salad
You can cut the carrots any way you find easy—sliced, diced or sticks—as it will not make a difference except with the cooking time. When planning to serve a caviar of carrot, do not mash them to a fine paste; you should still see bits of carrots.
A chermoula made with fresh herbs is key to the taste of this salad. Some like a generous amount of this marinade while others prefer a light seasoning. My family likes it on the generous side and I like to make mine lemony. You can have it this way either by adding more lemon juice or by adding finely chopped preserved lemons to the mix.
In the Rabat cuisine, a good sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon are added to the sauce just before finishing the cooking. It works marvelously!
Cooked carrot with chermoula makes a wonderful starter or side dish. A traditional Moroccan marinade called chermoula is key to the salad's preparation. Be sure to make the chermoula ahead of preparing this dish. A link is included in the ingredients.
Khizzou Mchermel is very easy to prepare and you can cut the carrots any way you like. Or, you can mash the carrots, in which case we call the salad Zaalouk dyal Khizzou. You can also adjust the marinade to your liking, such as more lemon or garlic, less spice, more heat, etc. It is a perfectly flexible recipe.
- 14 oz carrots, peeled and cored if the inside is green or pale yellow
- 1/4 cup chermoula paste
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, (1 large clove or 2 small)
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne, optional
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika or paprika paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed or white vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 preserved lemon, rind cut in wedges, optional
The methods to prepare this recipe differ in how to cook the carrots and how to serve the salad. The recipe ingredients remain the same.
Slice or dice the carrots to your liking, bearing in mind the more surface exposed to seasoning the better.
Sprinkle carrots with salt and parboil or steam them with the unpeeled garlic clove until they are al dente (pre-cooked but still have a bite to them). Drain.
In a pot or a skillet, heat the oil and add the chermoula, paprika or paprika paste; stir and fry for a few seconds. Fold in the carrots and stir. Add the cumin and the cayenne or harissa. Sauté for a few minutes on a medium heat until all carrots are coated and well infused with the spices.
Crush the garlic and add it either at the same time as the carrots or stir it in when you have just finished cooking.
Place the carrots in a cooking pot or frying pan. Add half of the chermoula and all of the seasoning. Add enough water to cover the carrots.
Put a lid on and cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are al dente. During cooking, add more water in small quantities if needed.
Add the rest of the chermoula and cook another 5 minutes or so. The water should have reduced at the end of the cooking process. There is hardly any sauce in this salad.
If you choose to serve it this way, coarsely mash precooked potatoes with a fork or a vegetable masher. You can also give a few pulses with a food processor. Return the carrots to the pan and add the chermoula and the rest of the ingredients. Sauté as for the previous method. Season to taste.
Remove from the heat and add the olive oil.
Wait until the salad has cooled, then stir in the lemon juice or the vinegar.
Serve the cooked salad garnished with preserved lemon, warm or cold or at room temperature.
I like to serve it as side dish next to steamed or roasted meat.
It is also one of the common salads added to our Moroccan salade composee which features a medley of salads placed side by side in a family plate.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil before serving.
- The same recipe works for most of the vegetables available in the Mediterranean region. The seasoning and cooking time should be adjusted accordingly.
- The very old ways call for the carrots to be fried before adding them to chermoula but we stopped doing this years ago since the salad is equally good when cooked on the healthy side.