Curious George was on television. Little one was sitting on her high chair with a bottle of milk in hand and her eyes stuck to the television. This particular time is one of the most stressful time of the whole day for me because she hates milk and pushing it down her throat is a struggle. So I try everything from love to blackmail, screaming to bribing and even the television and Curious George to distract her and make her drink that freaking glass of milk. I was doing all that and was also trying to think. Think of some good recipe worth sharing for the summer fest. This week’s ingredient is cucumber.
Amongst all this A thought of jumping in mostly because he had nothing better to do I guess! And he started throwing ideas. Ideas like a recipe involving a boat of cucumber stuffed with minced meat, deep fried cucumbers and something that involved cucumber and beer. Yes, ideas like that! When nothing sounded good to me he said, “just tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when you think cucumber”. I tried doing so and it worked like magic.
It took me years back to the days when as a child I would go to my grandma’s place for summer vacations. We would catch a state transposrt bus from the bus station at the crack of dawn. It used to be so early in the morning that we would still be half asleep when mummy would help us climb up the steps to the bus. Seats would be hard as rock and within few minutes the whole bus would be stuffed with people, not an inch to move. I would cling on to papa (my dad) and choose the window seat. The big wide windows with sliding glass doors. Bus would start and leave our town. Papa would tell stories, show me mountains, cows in the open field. When bus stops at the next station vendors would rush selling all kinds of stuff by the window. Fresh cut mangoes, coconut water, boiled chest nuts and cucumbers. Fresh cucumber, skin peeled off, cut in wedges with lots of chaat masala sprinkled on top, a little bit of red pepper flakes and a nice squirt of lemon juice to top it all off. That’s the image I get when I think cucumber. And that’s what food does to you. No matter how simple or complicated the method is to prepare it or how expensive the food itself is, it helps make memories. It takes you to a different place.
So after recovering from all that nostalgia I thought harder to find a recipe for cucumber that is fancy enough to be shared here. But went back to this simple cucumber and chaat masala salad every time. Finally decided I should share this memorable part of my childhood with you. In this recipe everything lies in the chaat masala powder and fresh cucumber. I like the little pickling cucumber mostly because that’s very close to the kind of cucumber we get in India. And chaat masala just like garam masala is a mixture of a few spices. Its slightly sweet, a little tangy, a bit hot and a little salty. So you can imagine for something that has all kinds of flavors in it how this spice blend might spruce up any dish. Most common use of chaat masala is in raita (yogurt dips), fruit salads, bhel puri and of course chaat (a spicy and tangy preparation with chickpea curry and potatoes).So here’s the recipe for cucumber salad with chaat masala and lemon juice.
Cucumber (peeled and cut into thick wedges)
juice of half lemon
For Chaat Masala:
2 tablespoon cumin seeds (I roast cumin seeds stiriing it in a hot pan for about a minute till it starts giving a beautiful aroma)
1 tablespoon rock salt (kala namak)
1 1/2 tablespoon Aamchur (dried mango powder) You can easily find it at any Indian grocery store.
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
Grind all the ingredients of chaat masala together in a coffee grinder and store in an air tight container.
Sprinkle some chaat masala on cucumber wedges. Some lemon juice on top and enjoy one of the world’s best coolers/salad just like that!
Some more cucumber recipes from friends-
Pinch My Salt: Chilled Cucumber, Kefir and Avocado Soup
What’s Gaby Cooking: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Radish-Cucumber Crostini
Big Girl Small Kitchen: Spicy Cucumber Salad with Shallot, Ginger and Mint
Grecian Kitchen: Summer Cucumber Salad
And Love It Too: Cucumber, Mint and Watermelon Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumbers Coolers with Agave Simple Syrup
Cooking With My Kid: Cucumber Limeade
FN Dish: Summer Fest: Cucumber Recipes
CIA Dropout: Relishing Cucumbers
Healthy Eats: Cool Cucumber Soup
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Cucumber Cherry Salsa
Cooking With Elise: Green Tea Cucumber Pops
Glory Foods: Cucumber and Shrimp Boat
Virtually Vegan Mama: Fire-Roasted Tomato and Cucumber Gazpacho
Food2: When Life Gives You Cucumbers, Make a Cucumber Cocktai
Cooking Channel: Cucumbers Stuffed with Crab-Mango Salad
Recipe Girl: Bread and Butter Pickles
Taste With the Eyes: Spicy Pickled Cucumbers with Wakame and Garlic Blossoms
Virtually Homemade: Cold Thai Cucumber-Mint Soup
Add a Pinch: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
The Cultural Dish: Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Sauce and Salad
Daily*Dishin: Cool n’ Zesty Cukes: 7 Minute Summer in a Jar
Daydreamer Desserts: Cubanita Margarita
Purple Cook: Cucumber Gazpacho with Indian Flavored Shrimp Relish
Big Apple Nosh: Quick and Easy Homemade Pickles
Sweet Life Bake: Agua de Pepino
The Sensitive Epicure: Tzatziki with Grilled Gluten-Free Pitas and Fresh Cucumbers and Peppers
Zaika Zabardast: Cucumber Gazpacho
A Way to Garden: Cucumber-Growing Q&A and the Best Pickles
Cooking with Books: Summer Fest: Cucumbers