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Spiced Veg Salad (Cachumber)

12 Sep

This spiced salad of raw vegetables is known as Cachumber, Kachumber or Kachmbar in Southern India and Koshumbir or Koshimbir in Western India. These small side dishes of seasoned raw vegetables can be as simple as chopped onion seasoned with lemon and salt or a complex mixture of many vegetables and fried spices. This one is on the more complex end of the spectrum and is really delicious, it adds a lovely crunch to any meal. Choose your own variety of vegetables, whatever is in season, and feel free to experiment with other spices.

  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Peppers (sweet or hot)
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • salt
  • lemon juice
  • Herbs; Coriander leaf (optional), garlic chives (optional)

Seasoning for 2-3 cups of vegetables

  • 1-2 tbsp descicated coconut
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds
Finely chop the vegetables, for this recipe i usually do about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of each vegetable, aiming for about 2-3 cups of vegetables altogether.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seed then add the coconut. Stir and lift off the heat as soon as the mustard seeds crackle and the aroma from the coconut rises. Stir the fried spices into the freshly chopped vegetables add the juice of half a lemon or more and salt to taste. Leave for 1 hour before serving so that the flavours and juices of the vegetables mingle. Serve with a little extra coconut sprinkled on top.
Variation freshly grated coconut would be great but as i cannot grow it here i keep some bought unsweetened descicated in the pantry.
For other Koshumbir type recipes have a look at:

Summer Pickle (Gujarati)

12 Sep

Crisp, fresh, summer vegetables tossed in a sour-pungent dressing of crushed mustard seeds, lemon juice, turmeric, and asafoetida. This is an instant Indian pickle that comes from Gujarat where it is also served as a salad. This pickle or salad is best made just before serving but it will also keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so it can be made ahead of time.

  • 2 sweet carrots
  • half a small cucumber
  • 2 – 4 hot green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 or 7 cherry tomatoes or physalis
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (Devil’s Dung)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)

Peel and cut the carrots into thin 2cm-ish batons, peel the cucumber and cut into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and cut into bite size slices. Put the carrots and cucumber in a bowl with the salt and set aside for 15 minutes then pour off any liquid that forms. Halve the tomatoes, slice the chillis and crush the garlic add these to the salted veg along with the rest of the ingredients toss well to coat and it is ready to serve.
Variations
Other vegetables I would use any other sweet fresh crisp vegetables including; turnips, radishes, French beans, sweetcorn.

Recipe Source
This recipe is based on the Cucumber & Carrot Pickle in Tarla Dalal’s Book Achaar aur Parathe I have changed it slightly by adding yellow cherry tomatoes and using chilli oil instead of mustard oil, I also added crushed garlic and in future I would add more chilli and other summer veg.

This recipe was originally posted on www.masdudiable.com on 31/7/2008.

Beansprout Salad (Korean)

18 Jul
In Korea this banchan or small dish would be served as one of a number of dishes along side rice. Last time I was in London I took my friends to a small Korean canteen in New Malden, home to a thriving Korean community, and this was one of the salads we ate as an appetizer. It is also one of the most common and popular salads and no wonder, it is so easy to make and delicious. I love it and have tried to recreate it here with as many variations as I have tasted over the years.

2 cups freshly sprouted mung bean

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • green onion (optional)
  • soy sauce (optional)
  • soft brown sugar (optional)
  • pepper flakes (optional)
  • fresh mild green chilli finely sliced (optional)
  • Chinese chives/ garlic chives (optional)

Blanch the beansprouts quickly in salted boiling water and rinse immediately in cold water. Gently squeeze out any water and put into a bowl. Add the seasoning ingredients and toss well to coat. The first 3 are a must while the next 7 can be added in any combination to vary the salad. Serve sprinkled with pepper flakes or roasted sesame seeds.

Variation with Chinese Chives
Note
In the summmer months mung beans take only 3 days from dry to lovely fresh spouted bean shoots and so easy just make sure everything is very clean and the beans are washed twice daily.
Variation
You can also add cucumber or carrot fenely sliced to the salad. I also sometimes serve it sprinkled with deep fried crispy anchovies.

Hot Cucumber Pickle (Thai)

29 Jun

I love spicy side salads or relishes particularly in summer, they add just the right dash of freshness and heat to a meal on a hot day. Cucumber are one of the best and easiest ingredients to make quick pickles out of. This one pickles the cucumbers instantly in a Thai or East Asian style dressing and is great served with grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings or simply with plain rice.

Serves 2 Preparation 4 minutes all in.

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp mild ground chilli peppers
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp lime or lemon juice

Slice the cucumber into thin discs and toss with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refridgerate until ready to serve. This pickled salad can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24 hours.

Minty Onion Relish

19 May


This raw salad type relish has bags of flavour and a lovely fresh zing to it. Sweet white onions are simply seasoned with salt, lemon and mint and the result is a delicious fresh side salad or relish to go with grilled foods, lentil or rice dishes.

  • 1 large sweet white onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • pinch salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
Mince the onion finely. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Rub the dried mint between the palms to break it down to a fine powder and sprinkle over the onions. That is it done, stir and serve. The salad can be left for an hour or so before serving and is still good 24 hours later so it can be made in advance.
Note In this part of France we a re lucky that it is an area famous for its sweet onions including the Cevennes Doux. A sweet Spanish or salad onion would make a good substitute. In most cases I would choose fresh herbs rather than dried but for this relish dried really does work best.
Garden Tip If you grow mint it is best to cut it back once or twice during the year, particularly as the weather gets hotter, to encourage fresh new growth. I grow a lot of mint so the twice annual cut backs provide plenty of mint to use fresh and to dry.

Yogurt and Walnut Relish

19 Mar

This Indian raita comes from Madhur Jaffrey who has several versions of a yogurt and walnut relish. In her book Madhur Jaffry’s Indian Cookery 1982, Kheere ka raita includes yogurt, chilli, salt, walnuts, green coriander, green chilli, spring onion and black pepper while the Kashmiri version in A Taste of India 1985 has simply yogurt, chilli, salt and walnuts. This version is based on the kashmiri recipe but with the addition of coriander and green chilli.

  • yogurt
  • 15-20 walnuts (shelled)
  • black salt or sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander, minced
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • ground dried chilli to taste

Bash the shelled walnuts with the coarse salt then stir into yogurt add sliced green chillis and ground dried chillis to taste add coriander stir well and serve.

Sour Cucumber Salad

27 Oct
I love cucumber side salads they add just a dash of something light and refreshing to a meal. This one is a wonderfull salty, sour and hot and is great served with fried or grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings or with rice and dal. It is particularly tasty if you use some of the more aromatic chillis such as Lemon Drop or Habanero chillis. I thought our crop of cucumbers was over for this year but as the day time temerpatures are holding late into October, the remaining cucumber plant in the polytunel has started to produce new growth and even cucumbers.
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 fresh hot chilli thinly sliced
  • pinch of ground dried chilli 
  • generous pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice 
Slice the cucumber into paper thin discs. Slice the chilli into very thin rounds put them into a small bowl with the cucumber, ground chilli and salt sprinkle with citrus juoice or vinegar. Mix well then refridgerate until ready to serve. This salad can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24 hours.
Tip if the skins are a little tough by all means peel them.

Crunchy Coconut Relish

6 May

Coconut relish is one of the classic Indian relishes, particularly in the South. I make quite a few different coconut relishes, chutnies or pachadis. This one is quite dry and crunchy; a delicous blend of cool coconut, hot chillis with fried spices and crunchy lentils stirred in at the last moment.  It is a perfect accompaniment to vegetable curries, dals and Indian breads.

  • 100g desiccated coconut or half a fresh coconut grated
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp very hot chilli powder (I use lemon drop) optional or to taste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp urid dal
  • 1tsp brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 16 dried curry leaves, crumbled or small sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • pinch asafoetida

If desiccated coconut is used, sprinkle it with 3 tablespoons water or coconut milk and mix well to moisten. Stir in the lime juice, chilli powder and salt to taste. Heat oil in a small pan and fry the mustard seeds and dhal until the seeds pop and the dhal is golden. Add the the dried chilli curry leaves wait until the chilli darkens then add the nigella and asafoetida and turn off the heat immediately, pour over the coconut and mix well leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving. It will keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge.


Note if you can get fresh coconut then fantastic – use it – the grated flesh of fresh coconut tastes so much better. You can also make a smoother chutney by adding a little more liquid and grinding the whole lot to a smooth paste but I personally like the crunchy texture of it made this way. I sometimes add crumbled dried red chillis instead of the fresh or powdered and that is wonderful too
Gardeners Note If there is one thing I wish I could grow in my garden and I can’t it is a coconut. I love it but there is no hope, it is early May here and it has been raining for days and the temperatures feel like they have gone back to winter.
Recipe Source The original recipe came from Rafi Fernandez’s ‘Thenga Chutney’  p 82 in Cooking of Southern India. I have adapted it over time to my taste so it is a quite different and this is my version of her wonderful recipe.

Quick Carrot Pickle

7 Dec

Freshly made pickles or achars are a speciality of India and one of my favourite ways of eating raw veg, more of a side salad than a pickle, they are meant to be eaten fresh rather than stored. For this one the raw vegetables are simply tossed in spices and hot oil which transforms the humble carrot into mouth tingling morsel of yumminess that peps up all kinds of food. This one is particularly quick, requiring no standing time at all, and is hot, pungent and delicious. It really brings out the sweet crispness of the raw carrots and is wonderful with rice and a simple dal. You could also add it to a cottage cheese wrap, scatter over a leafy salad or just tuck into a bowlfull of this as a snack.

  • 4 carrots 
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds 
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric 
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder 
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of asafoetida 
  • mustard oil 

Peel and cut the carrots into small batons about two inches long. Crush the whole spices, a coffee grinder works perfectly or just bash them up in a mortar, add the other spices, sprinkle over the carrots and toss well. Heat the mustard oil in a small pan until it starts to smoke, this mellows the oil, then pour the hot oil over the carrots and toss to make sure all the carrots are coated in the oily spice paste. Serve immediately or it will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Recipe Source I am not clever enough to invent this stuff, this recipe came from Tarla Dalal’s fantastic book Achaar aur Parathe. I have kept to her recipe but reduced the spicing a little bit.

Chayote Quick Pickle

5 Oct

This is a Japanese style quick pickle or raw vegetable salad. There are so many wonderful Japanese quick pickle dishes and as I am making a Japanese meal this evening, I thought I would experiment and try making something I haven’t tried before. The starting point for this recipe was Udo Kinzanji-miso-ae, but here I have used crisp fresh chayote or Choko instead of udo and dressed it with a simple soy and chilli dressing with only a hint of miso, so quite different from the original recipe really but no less delicious.

  • 2 chayotes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp miso 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika / chilli powder to taste

Peel the chayotes into nice bite size pieces and put into a bowl. Mix a tiny bit of miso with about 2 tbsp of soy sauce and a mix of chilli powder and paprika to taste. Pour over the vegetables and mix well. Serve immediately or leave to marinate for a few hours before serving. Serve at room temperature as a vegetable side relish as part of a Japanese meal.

Recipe Source The original recipe can be found in Tsukemono Japanese Pickling Recipes by Ikuko Hisamatsu, 2005. The original recipe calls for Kinzanji miso which is really a condiment and I do not have any so I used a very small amount of Hatcho miso made from soy beans, it is a dark brown firm miso with a smooth texture.

Gardeners Note Chayote or vegetable pear are members of the cucurbit family. A vining climbing plant producing lots of green pear shaped fruit that are crisp and dense with no strong flavour. You could substitute a root vegetable, or dense cucumber.
5/10/2008