Project Fire: Smoke-Roasted Carrots with Spice-Scented Yogurt

Add some kick to your side dishes with this recipe for easy to grill smoke-roasted carrots with spice-scented yogurt.

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Photo by Matthew Benson
Serves 4-6 SERVINGS


  • Spice-Scented Yogurt:
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon or lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Carrots
  • 2 pounds medium-sized whole carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • Coarse sea or kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional


  • To make Spice-Scented Yogurt: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, and roast them, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until they’re fragrant and lightly browned. Lightly crush them using a pestle or the back of a smaller frying pan.
  • Place the yogurt in a small bowl. Stir in the seeds, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
  • To Make Carrots: set up your grill for indirect grilling, and heat to medium-high.
  • Arrange the carrots in a single layer on a large, disposable aluminum foil pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Set the pan on the grill grate away from direct heat. Add wood chunks or chips to the coals. Close the grill lid.
  • Smoke-roast the carrots until almost tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Move the pan directly over the fire, and grill until the carrots are brown and crusty, about 5 to 10 more minutes, turning often with tongs to ensure even browning.
  • Place a spoonful of Spice-Scented Yogurt on individual plates, and arrange carrots on top. Sprinkle with thyme, if desired.

These slender root vegetables are turning up on fashionable menus everywhere. Sometimes roasted, and sometimes smoked or grilled, carrots are served as starters, desserts, and even in cocktails. Sometimes they precede the steak; sometimes they are the steak. And of course, they always make a killer side dish. Think of these sweet, smoky, crusty, meaty, tender carrots as vegetable brisket.

These carrots call for a two-step grilling process: indirect grilling followed by direct grilling. Indirect grilling softens and smokes them, and direct grilling caramelizes and crisps the exterior.

For this recipe, I recommend organic rainbow carrots, as they taste more carroty, and they won’t have any residual pesticides. One sign of freshness is bright, springy green tops (which you can use to make pesto).

Method: Smoke-roasting/indirect grilling, followed by direct grilling. First grilled over charcoal or gas, and then with 2 hardwood chunks or 1-1⁄2 cups wood chips (soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained).

Direct vs. Indirect Grilling

Direct Grilling: This is the simplest, most straightforward, and most widely practiced method of grilling, and it’s what most people use when they fire up the grill. In a nutshell, you cook small, tender, quick-cooking foods directly over a hot fire.

Indirect Grilling: For indirect grilling, you cook the food next to (not directly over) the fire, or between two fires. This method is the choice for grilling larger cuts that direct grilling can’t handle, such as whole chickens or pork loins, and fatty cuts such as whole ducks or pork shoulders. Indirect grilling is usually done with the lid closed.

Project Fire

Where there’s smoke there’s fire! And where there’s fire, there’s Steven Raichlen. Following the breakout success of Project Smoke, the New York Times best-seller that brought Raichlen’s Barbecue! Bible series to a new generation, comes Project Fire: a stunning, full-color celebration of the best of contemporary grilling from America’s master of live-fire cooking.

From breakfast (Bacon and Egg Quesadilla) to cocktails (Grilled Sangria), from veggies (Caveman Cabbage and Smoke-Roasted Carrots) to dessert (Grilled “Piña Colada” and Cedar-Planked Pears with Amaretti and Mascarpone), Project Fire offers a radically righteous new take on live-fire cooking from the man who reinvented modern American grilling.