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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:
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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.

Green Onion Relish (Korean)

6 Aug

Last trip to London I found the Korean area in Merton and the best Korean restaurant I’ve been to so far. A small canteen style restaurant, empty when we arrived (I get hungry early), and ques down the street when we left. This was one of the small dishes or banchan we were offered as we sat down. This one is called pajori or pajuhri in Korean. It was so good I had to try and recreate it with our garden onions once i got back home. It is a lovely dish, simple clean flavours and very easy to prepare. Serve with other small dishes Korean style or as a small side dish or relish to add a lovely touch to any meal.

Wash and trim the onions into 6-8cm lengths then carefull slice into thin threads or shreds, what the French call julienne. Drop the onions into a large bowl of cold water and leave for 20 minutes this will make them crisper and less pungent.

Mix the rest of the ingredients to your taste, use a mild or hot chilli flakes, and balance the sugar to the heat of the chilli and salt of the soy. Season with a good dash of sesame oil and sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately or it can be kept for a few days in the fridge, the relish will wilt but it will still taste great.

  • soy sauce
  • pepper flakes
  • sugar
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sesame oil

Garden Note
I always have green onions in the garden although I don’t bother to grow the traditional ‘spring onions’; in autumn/winter/spring we have the Amish and Walking Onions, in spring the overwintered onions and onion blancs, and then in summer and autum the thinings from the new crops of white onions and red torpedos.

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.

Tamarind Chutney

20 Mar

If you have never tried tamarind chutney before give it a go; it is a quick with no cooking involved and absolutely delicious. If you can get your hands on fresh Tamarind pods by all means use those otherwise tamarind can be bought in blocks shelled and compressed.

  • 200g tamarind block
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 cups half litre hot water
  • 1-2 tsp cumin roasted and ground
  • 1-2 tsp ground red chilli (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Indian black salt (optional if you can get it)
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Soak the tamarind block in the hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Push it through a sieve along with the soaking liquid, make a few passes to get a thick puree. Stir all the remaining ingredients into the tamarind puree, taste and adjust the quantities to get a good balance. As simple as that. It will keep for 2 months in the fridge.

VariationI also make a version of this with black plum puree instead of tamarind which is really delicious.

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.

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.

Salted Radish Preserves

15 Oct

Salted radishes are commonly found in East Asian cuisine and would normally be made with mooli, the long tapering white root also called chinese radish, but it can also be made with French breakfast radishes, white turnip, black winter radish or regular red radishes. Serve as a side pickle, as an appetiser or use as an ingredient in soups or noodle dishes such as Pad Thai

*Radishes
*Salt

Quick Salted Pickle
Simply wash (peel if necessary) and remove the top leaves. Slice the roots thinly put into a bowl and sprinkle with salt, toss with your hands to coat and leave to mature for an hour or two for a quick salted radish or 1 – 4 days for more robust flavour. It will keep well for a couple of weeks in the fridge. I haven’t experimented yet with preserving for longer as we tend to eat the salted radishes too quickly but the process would be the same as for other lactic preserves.


Lactic Fermented
Prepare the radishes as above and on the 4th day, once the initial salting is over, pack into sterilised jars, cover with a brine solution (1 tbsp of salt per litre of spring water brought to the boil and left to cool) and seal. Store in a cool dark place and will be ready to eat in about 1 month.

Lactic Fermentation II 
Wash the radishes and slice lengthwise into chunks. Pack into a sterilised jar, weight down with a clean stone and cover with brine (2 tbsp of salt to 1 litre of spring water brought to the boil then cooled). Seal the jar and keep in a cool dark place for 1 month when it will be ready to start eating. Remove small amounts from the jar and top up with brine if necessary to keep the radishes covered.

Variations If serving as an appetiser with drinks, sprinkle with a little rice vinegar or other sour agent such as lemon or lime juice, verjus, or cider vinegar before serving on the end of a cocktail stick.

Courgette Salad with Peanut Dressing

13 Oct

Simple yet stunning salad of ribbons of courgette with a tangy Thai style peanut dressing. Crisp fresh courgettes are a lovely vegetable to eat raw and dressed like this they make a wonderful exotic appetizer or side dish.

2-3 courgettes
Peanut Dressing
2 tbsp raw peanuts
juice of half a lime or lemon
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Thai fish sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
coriander leaf
1 tbsp light soy sauce
pinch dried ground chilli

Use a vegetable peeler to cut ribbons from crisp fresh courgettes put into a bowl. Dry roast the peanuts and crush add the remaining ingredients and pound to a rough paste. Add the dressing to the bowl of courgettes and toss well to coat, done!
Gardeners note the courgette plants get a second wind when the rains come in September and October produce lovely courgettes until the first frost normally around mid November.