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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.
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 on 31/7/2008.

Noodles with Peanut Dressing

8 Aug

Noodle salads are perfect summer lunch fare they also travel well so they make excellent picnic or lunch box food. This salad is dressed with crushed peanuts and oriental seasonings along with fresh cucumbers and mangetout from the garden, but you can use whatever is in season.

Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • green onions or garlic chives
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1-2 tbsp rice vinegar or lime/lemon juice
  • chilli (fresh, ground or flaked) to taste (optional)
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • vegetables such as cucumbers and lightly cooked green beans or mangetout

In a large pan of water. Boil the noodles, for 3-7 minutes depending on the variety and packet instructions, until just cooked. Meanwhile slice the onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients, mix well to dissolve the sugar. When the noodles are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, and for a robust meal with some korean small dishes such as Green Onion Relish or Beansprout Salad .

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook the noodles when making this salad and any vegetables raw or lightly or cooked to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Noodles soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat which comes in a number of varieties and flavours, the ones use in the picture above are flavoured with une plums, you could also use rice or mung bean noodles or even whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative.

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.

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.

Summer Salad (Greek)

5 Oct
Of all the countries in the world, to my mind, the Greeks do the best summer salads. It is not just the Aegean blue and blazing sun that make them taste so good they really know how to make the simple, chunky ingredients of summer sing.

Cucumber, cut into chunks
Onions, sweet ones sliced
Fresh herbs: parsley, basil, thyme or marjoram
Lemon juice (optional)
Olive oil (optional)

    Simply chop the vegetables into bite size pieces, season with salt and chopped herbs and that is it. As the vegetables are fairly juicy they create their own dressing but you can give it a touch of oil and lemon juice too. I sometimes use Salted Parsley Preserve instead of fresh parsley as the only addition for speed.

    Variations To the basic vegetable ingredients you can add all manner of stuff to make a more substantial salad. I particularly like adding a handull of pickled caper berries, black olives, feta cheese, chopped boiled egg or cured ham.

    My Aegean Spice Mix
    This is my own blend of herbs and spices that remind me of the Aegean, I use it to season raw summer veg and grillades. Fresh herbs such as oregano, mountain thyme, mint dried and rubbed then mixed with sea salt, dried lemon zest and ground chilli.

    Gardeners Note
    Summer salads like these start in June with the first cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from the polytunnel and carry on until the last rays of summer sun in October.

    Pickled Cucumber Salad

    11 Sep

    Cucumbers are prolific croppers and are best eaten fresh as they are picked so in summer we eat a lot of cucumber salads with an oriental flavour to make the best use of them. This one pickles the cucumbers and is great served with fried or grilled foods such as barbecued chicken wings.
    Serves 4 as an accompaniment

    • 1 cucumber
    • 60ml water
    • 1 tbsp palm sugar
    • 60ml rice vinegar (or any light white vinegar)
    • 1cm cube of ginger peeled and grated
    • 1 small red chilli de-seeded and finely sliced

    Peel the cucumber and cut into quarters length ways. Remove the seeds and slice thinly. Mix the remaining ingredients stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Mix the dressing and cucumber and refridgerate until ready to serve.

    Prawn & Cucumber Salad

    21 Aug

    A lovely, fresh tasting, Asian inspired salad of prawns, crisp cucumbers with a hot, sweet and sour peanut dressing. Add rice noodles to make this a substantial meal. It is quick and easy to make and it tastes divine, perfect for a hot summers day.

    Serves 2 prep 20 minutes
    handful cooked prawns, peeled
    1/2 – 1 cucumber (depending on how big they are)
    fresh mint and or coriander leaves
    fresh garlic chive flower buds (optional)
    handful roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly crushed
    2 portions of thin rice noodles
    1 clove garlic, finely crushed
    1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
    1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
    4-6 tbsp hot water
    2-3 tsp sugar (palm sugar if you can get it)
    2 tbsp fish sauce
    3 tbsp lime juice
    1 tbsp light soy sauce
    Mix the sugar with the hot water and stir to dissolve. Add the garlic, chilli, fish sauce and lime juice and set aside to infuse. Meanwhile soak the noodles as directed on the packet (i find that they all behave a little differently some are best soaked for a few minutes in hot water while others need longer in cold water so it is best to follow the recommendations for the type you’ve got). Peel the cucumber, only if the skin is tough, otherwise slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and then into quarter lengths, remove the seeds and chop into bite sized pieces.
    Lay the noodles in a large wide serving bowl, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the dressing and toss to coat well. Decorate the noodles with the remaining fresh ingredients, toss gently, sprinkle with more dressing and scatter with the crushed peanuts before serving.

    Cucumber & Yogurt Soup

    21 Aug

    This is the best summer soup. A chilled, uncooked soup of pureed cucumber, yogurt and mint. Our friend Maggie made this for us, on her recent visit here this summer, and we were blown away by how simple and how delicious the soup is. It is wonderfully refreshing and perfect for a summer lunch or a light starter and great at this time of year if you grow your own cucumbers.

    Serves 4 Prep 15 mins

    * 1 cucumber
    * 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    * 250g of natural live yogurt
    * water (1.5 x the volume of yogurt)
    * pinch of salt
    * pinch crushed black peppercorns
    * handful of fresh mint leaves

    Peel the cucumber, if the skins are a little tough otherwise leave the skins on, and roughly chop. Put the cucumber in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and blitz with a hand blender or put into a food processor and blitz to a smoothish soupy consistency. Add a little more water if required, check seasoning and serve. As simple as that.

    Cucumber Peanut Coriander Salad

    11 Aug

    This Thai style dish has stayed a favourite of mine for the last 15 years or more because it is as delicious as it is simple. A wonderful salad combining crisp cucumbers, roasted peanuts and coriander in a salty fish sauce dressing.

    • Cucumber
    • Handful coriander Leaves
    • Handful red skinned raw peanuts
    • 2 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce

    Put the peanuts in a heavy frying pan and roast over a low heat shaking the pan now & then. When they are done take them off the heat and leave to cool. Peel the cucumbers and slice length ways into quarters, remove the seeds and chop into bite size chunks or thin slices if you prefer. Put the cucumbers into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the fish sauce.Wash and chop the coriander leaves and add to the cucumber. When the peanuts are cool bash them up in a pestle & mortar or put them in a bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. Add the peanuts and mix well. A nice side dish to serve with any South East Asian meal or to accompany grilled meets or deep fried foods. We sometimes have it as a topping for a rice noodle salad.

    Cook’s TIP Red skinned peanuts do taste better than the larger pale skin ones, or ready roasted ones so if you can find them, health food shops usually, it is worth using them for this dish.

    Gardeners Note This is a great dish to make with an abundant supply of cucumbers. In the warm months when we have a continuous supply of coriander and cucumbers from the garden but I am working on growing peanuts.