“Aliñar” reminds me of a carrot tapas dish, “zanahorias aliñadas,” I had when I visited Jerez de la Frontera, an ancient city in Cadiz, Andalusia, which is famous for sherry. The locals dropped the ending and just called it “zanahorias aliñá.” Although it was a frightfully plain dish, hardly something you could call cooking, it had a refreshing taste with a clean feel in the mouth, making it an opener for the coming main act, or even just a nibble with a glass of something, and the aroma of the cumin spreading into the nose was like an Andalusian breeze with its pronounced Arabian cultural traits. Being in Andalusia, it was perfectly matched with an aperitif of dry sherry.
Photo 1 shows the extremely simple ingredients: carrot, garlic, cumin seeds, olive oil, coarse salt, and water. This is my own, simple-as-possible method.
〇 First slice the carrot, unpeeled, into rounds.
〇 Then put a little salt in some water and boil the carrot. It’s better to cook it al dente, but you can cook it to your preferred softness/hardness. (You can also boil whole carrots then cut them into rounds. Or even simpler, you can dip them in water, wrap them in cling film, then cook them in the microwave.)
〇 While they’re cooking, make the “aliño” (marinade). Crush the garlic, coarse salt, and cumin seed, then mix with the olive oil.
Photo 2 shows the freshly boiled carrot. The defects are the bite mark where I checked the hardness and the carrot top that I didn’t get rid of. To the side is the prepared marinade.
〇 Once the carrot has cooled after boiling, add the marinade, vinegar, and water, marinate overnight, and it’s ready. Perhaps you could call it instant pickles? Some recipes say to peel the carrots and cut the pieces to the same size, or mix finely chopped oregano, parsley, paprika powder, and so on into the marinade, so the method I describe here really is just my quick and easy version.
Photo 3 shows the finished dish. It is an embarrassing botch-up job, but that too reminds me of the air in Andalusia, and that’s good enough for me. It also goes well enough with curry and rice, which probably means the aroma of the cumin in the curry matches it. That said, it’s not as good as the best combination of all, with “fukujinzuke” (sliced vegetables pickled in soy sauce and sugar) and “rakkyo” (pickled shallots).
Just as an added extra, here is a comparison of the words for carrot in various European languages. It’s “zanahoria” in Spanish, “cenoura” in Portuguese, “carrot” in English, “carotte” in French, “carota” in Italian, and “karotte” in German. As you might expect, the words in Spain and Portugal, which lie on the Iberian Peninsula, are a little different from those in the other countries, seeing as the Peninsula was ruled for a time by followers of Islam.