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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.

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.

Potato Omelete (Spanish)

21 Sep
Tortilla de Patatas or Potato Omelete, spelled omelette in France, is simple uncluttered food that is so easy to make once you get the heat and timing right. This is one of my favourite lunches or snacks and is sold in almost every Tapas bar in Spain, often cut into small squares to accompany drinks.
Serves Cook 15-25min
  • 3 Potatoes, thinly sliced (raw) or parboiled into thicker slices.
  • 1 Onion, thinly sliced into half rings (optional)
  • 4-6 Eggs, beaten
  • crushed rock sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • perhaps some fresh herbs for variation if you have them handy
There are three ways of making a traditional Spanish Omelette. All three require a good frying pan that will not stick and has a tight fitting lid.

  1. Fry onions in olive oil then take the onions out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil and fry the sliced raw potatoes over a very low heat (10 minutes) until almost cooked. Remove from heat stir in the eggs and cooked onions, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set and without letting the bottom burn.
  2. Fry onions in olive oil add parboiled potatoes stir to coat in oil. Remove from heat, stir in the eggs making sure all the potato pieces are coated in egg pushing any protruding pieces of potato down under the egg, season and cook over a very low heat with a tight fitting lid for 10-15 mins until set.
  3. Fry the peeled and roughly sliced potatoes, with a little onion if using, in lots of olive oil covered to stew in the oil and steam. When cooked removed from the heat and stir into a bowl of beaten eggs. Season and return the mixture to the pan that has been cleaned and oiled or seasoned with lard. Cook gently until the egg sets.
Serve as a light lunch with salad or as canapés cut into bite size squares.
Cooks TIP if you have trouble getting the egg to set without burning the bottom finish off under a grill or turn the tortilla using a plate.

Onion Fritters [Bhaji]

26 Aug
I love onion bhaji’s and I’ve tried a lot of recipes but what mostly comes out are heavy stodgy lumps. What I want are the bhaji’s I used to eat as a student in Glasgow,  light, crisp and spicy morsels full of onions. This is them, mostly onion with just enough spicy coating to keep the sliced onion together while it fries. Delicious with a cooling yogurt sauce or spicy chilli sauce.
  • 1 kg onions
  • 2  heaped tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 1 tsp garam masala recipe I
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
  • small handful coriander leaf, chopped
  • 1-3 green chilli, minced
  • salt
  • oil for deep frying
Slice the onions and put then into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with the spices and herbs and stir well to coat. Set a pan of vegetable oil to heat. Meanwhile sprinkle the chickpea flour, a little at a time, into the bowl of onions and really stir well to coat. Just use enough to coat the onions or if you want a more solid bhaji add a little more chickpea flour. When the the oil is hot drop in small spoonfulls of the mixture. Fry until golden, drain and serve with tamarind chutney, a sweet mint yogurt or chilli sauce.
Variation
Onion and Fenugreek Pakoras
I grow fenugreek and love using the fresh leaves in pakoras. I use the same method as above and add about a cupfull of fresh leaves a little more chickpea flour and make pakoras.

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.
Basic

Tomatoes
Cucumber, cut into chunks
Onions, sweet ones sliced
Peppers
Fresh herbs: parsley, basil, thyme or marjoram
Salt
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.

    Tomato & Chilli Salsa (Mexican)

    23 Aug

    This is the salsa I make with our summer bounty of peppers, chillis, onion and tomatoes. It is a cooked salsa, bottled and heat processed, so it has a long shelf-life right through the winter.

    A rich red tomato, chilli and onion relish perfect with home made corn chips or as a base for many Mexican dishes. I wanted to make this salsa for preserving so my starting point was the encyclopedic book on preserving Putting Food By 4th edition from which I took the basic ingredients and method.

    Makes about 4 x 300g jars

    • 1 kilo of tomatoes
    • 4 hot onions
    • 10-20 green & red fleshy hot chillis peppers (preferably Jalapeno)
    • 1 large sweet green pepper
    • 1 large sweet red pepper
    • 1 tbsp ground mulatto chilli pepper (optional)
    • 50ml cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1-2 tsp salt

    Peel the onions and core and seed the chillis and peppers. Throw them into a food processor and grind to a fine chop. Peel the tomatoes and throw those in give the mix another quick wizz to pulp the tomatoes. Tip the whole lot into a large pan, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20-40 minutes or until the salsa turners a dark red and has a rich thick consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Heat process for 15 minutes. See How to Make Passata for instructions on how to heat process in a hot water bath.

    Cook’s Note Be careful with the chillis, if they are very hot use only a small number but if they are mild use 20 or more. Also the quantity of vinegar, sugar and salt required will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes used. If I’ve used beefsteak tomatoes like cuostralle, which are low in acidity I add the vinegar you may not need to just taste the sauce and adjust to taste.

    Tomato Salad

    10 Aug

    This salad is standard fair in summer and simplicity itself. Great served with grilled foods or as a fresh vegetable accompaniment or starter

    • tomatoes
    • crushed sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

    Slice the tomatoes in half and toss with the remaining ingredients. Tomato salads are best eated immediately.

    Variation mash some basil leaves with a little salt and olive oil as a dressing or give it a simple dash of olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar. Add shavings of parmesan cheese, freshly torn basil leaves, sliced sweet onions or chinese chive buds.

    Gardeners Note
    I am always on the look out for the best tasting tomatoes so far my favourite varieties are Noir de Crimee and Cuostralle
    Original post 10/8/2006


    Classic Spicy Side Salad

    24 Jul

    This is a classic side salad. A refreshingly tangy salad of tomatoes, onions and cucumber straight from the garden with a hint of chilli and lemon which gives it the piquancy. Salads like this are found all around India, the mediteranean and middle east. It makes an excellent summer side salad and goes well with grilled meats and curries.

    • 3-4 tomatoes
    • 2 small white onions
    • 1 or 2 small cucumbers, peeled
    • lemon juice
    • salt & pepper
    • pinch of sugar
    • pinch of chilli flakes or chili powder
    • Optional herbs; flat leaf parsley, mint or coriander finely chopped.

    Finely chop the onion, tomato and cucumber, add the citrus juice, season with salt, pepper, sugar and chilli to taste and give it a good mix. Serve immediately sprinkled with herbs.