Roasted Carrots With Yaji Spice Relish
A fragrant combination of dried spices and aromatics, yaji, also known as suya spice, is as ubiquitous as salt and pepper in homes across Northern Nigeria and West Africa more broadly. Often used to cure meats and finish other dishes, the spice blend is made depending on taste and access to ingredients, so the recipe can range from home to home and vendor to vendor. Common among blends is the addition of a warming chile powder, ground ginger (although fresh is used in some cases) and pulverized peanuts. Here, a basic yaji spice blend is incorporated into a fresh, piquant relish of scallions, lemon zest and juice as a finish to liven up roast vegetables.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 4pounds carrots, scrubbed, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces, halved lengthwise if thick
- ¼cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable oil
- Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 1(1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, scrubbed
- 1cup thinly sliced scallions (from about 5 scallions)
- 1tablespoon roasted peanut oil (optional)
- 1tablespoon yaji spice (see Tip)
- ¼teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼cup toasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
Step 1Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons oil, and season lightly with salt. Spread in an even layer on 2 baking sheets and roast until vegetables are tender and caramelized in spots, about 40 minutes, rotating sheet pans once halfway through the cooking process.
Step 2As the carrots roast, make the relish: Grate the ginger into a large bowl and add the sliced scallions. Zest 1 lemon over the bowl, and squeeze in the juice from 1 1/2 lemons. (Reserve the other half for serving.) Stir to combine. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in the roasted peanut oil (if using), the yaji spice, paprika and parsley. Stir to combine,then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Step 3While the vegetables are still warm, gently toss in the large bowl to coat with the relish. Transfer to a platter, and scatter the toasted peanuts over the top. Serve with reserved lemon half, if you like.