Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cucumber at its best- with chaat masala

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.

Chaat Masala
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.

This is how cucumber should be eaten!


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


  1. that is definitely a refreshing idea prerna..simple and delicious.

  2. A great spice mix! I bet that pairing is just awesome.



  3. That looks really refreshing for this time of year - thanks for sharing.

    Thinking about your daughter - as the mother of a now four and a half year old incredibly picky eater (bordering on problem feeder), can I offer you a few suggestions? If she doesn't like it, don't force it. In my experience it only made the situation worse. Maybe if you tried Ovaltine? Or just skipped cow milk (I'm assuming you're using cow milk) entirely and go for soy/almond/rice instead? If she likes cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc. she can get her calcium in other ways - even some vegetables.

    I'm not trying to overstep my boundaries or be pushy. I just know what I went through (and am going through) and don't want any other mom to have to experience that. Best of luck to you!

  4. lovely! You know when I was a kid, the lady in front of my school sold cucumber with spice mix similar to this. I love it!

  5. Such a refreshing snack! I love cucumbers with salt + cumin. I will definitely try this chaat masala!

  6. this is a feast in itself. nothin can beat having it wth the chat masala..

  7. Simple and perfect! I just came home with a bag of pickling cucumbers like yours, not the long ones. I've run out of aamchur, I think. Otherwise I would be in the kitchen already preparing these. But I have a punch of fresh mint and homemade yoghurt....let's see if I can cook up something from them....

    You've told a lovely memory of a busride.

  8. Stunning photographs ... you make even the humble cucumber look sexy

  9. Oh, how simple and delicious sounding! I love how refreshing cucumbers are and have been eating a lot of them lately.

  10. Simple things can bring a lot of joy in life ...... this is the perfect example :)

  11. I can really relate to what you have said. Have gone through similar days and yup this style of cucumber dressing is the best :) Love the clicks :) Simple yet classic :)

  12. Loved reading about your childhood days. Food related to them are always dear to my heart.

  13. Yes...Cucumebr in its tastiest & simplest form!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  14. I've never tried this spice mix, but I think I must make some! Is kala namak easy to find?

  15. I am so excited to try this so simple but exotic way to eat cukes. Thanks for inspiration.

  16. Now those are some happy cucumbers - what a great spice mixture. I loved reading about your childhood memories; I felt as though I was right there with you.

  17. ah. You so right about memories we make with food. And its always the simple things in life that make the best of memories. Be it food or otherwise. I adore chat masala and love it on everything!

  18. Oh! Summer = Cucumber with salt and chili powder. That's what I remember from my childhood. Sometimes we do add chaat masala. Simple yet exotic pics sweets.

    PS: Even my son loves Curious George. :-)

  19. I love it! The simple recipes are the best and the ones that are connected to your childhood - you can't put a price on it!

  20. Loved the spice mix! You have an amazing blog..
    Happy to follow u..

  21. Love this simple way to enjoy cucumber. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful photos!

  22. Simply gorgeous! My fiancé loves fresh cucumber with salt, but I am going to make this for him as something a little different as I know he will love it. In fact I will make it tonight. Just a question though. Our local Indian grocer doesn't have aamchur. What could I use as a substitute?

  23. this is so good! love it's simplicity !!! thanks for the chaat masala recipe!

  24. Amazing pictures! And a lovely way of serving up those cukes.

  25. Ummm this reminds me of childhood days:)

  26. Thanks so much for encouraging words everyone!
    @Ginny- No I don't mind your kind help at all! It was really kind of you to offer the advice. Sometimes parenting is tough but its all worth it!
    @Nicole- You can easily find kala namak (rock salt) at any Indian store if not in an Asian market.
    @Jennifer- Aamchur is just an important part of chaat masala. It is what gives the masala its tang. Not sure what else yo can use. Maybe lemon juice over cucumber (not mixed in the masala of-course!)

  27. Beautiful post Prerna! Love the photos...
    Just the perfect way to eat cucumber in summer!

  28. THANK YOU for sharing your childhood memory! That's what cooking is all about! So happy I found you through the FN Summer Fest! Can hardly wait to make chaat masala. Thank you so much!

  29. This may be a very simple recipe but it is one of my favorite so far. First of all I loved the trip you took me on down memory lane. And also because it is so easy and not intimidating that I will be making it soon and probably over and over. I love cucumbers and I can imagine that the chaat masala really gives it a marvellous touch.

  30. Made this today since I have been thinking about it since you posted it - delicious!

  31. @Mek.. Yay! Thanks so much for trying it and also liking it :-)

  32. What a great idea! Simple, spicy, tasty. It reminds of of one of my husband's favorite treats: sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon.

    In honor of cucumber week I'd love to throw in another suggestion. This one's a kid-friendly recipe from The Food Network Magazine: Chicken with Pickle Sauce.

    Best, Charity

  33. Prerna,
    Maybe I'm a bit late in reading this? but I recently read about you making the Finalist for the SAVEUR's Best Food Blog for 2011 Congratulations!!!

  34. The cucumbers sound lovely and refreshing, especially when it is 102 outside (as it is here in KS, has been for 2 weeks, and is supposed to be for another week!)

    Also, just a friendly word of advice. I would suggest not forcing your daughter to drink milk. Some of my most unpleasant childhood memories are of my mother forcing me to sit at the table until I drank all my milk. I would gag everytime I tried to drink it! To this day, I cannot drink milk, and I am very healthy, and have never had a broken bone! There are lots of other ways to include calcium in her diet. I think its wise to let her use her own likes and dislikes (within reason, of course) to determine what her body needs.

  35. Simplicity is a very wonderful thing indeed. Thanks for sharing the chaat masala recipe (was wondering about that) & these delightful cucumbers with us :)

  36. Now why does something have to be fancy to be good enough for a blog? I am constantly asking myself that when I make something I think is too "simple" but sometimes simple is just the best! Like these cucmbers. And lucky me I have a cucumber in the fridge...

  37. Love the simplicity here -- and looks so refreshingly delicious.

  38. Chop up some pineapple and raw mangoes along with the cucumber, sprinkle with chaat masala... yum yum yum!!! Salad Indienne!

  39. I love the idea of making seasoning blend. I made some about a month ago and I really do use it, I am out of it and ready to make some more. Thanks all for the great idea.
    Organic Spices

  40. We are fans of the humble cuc. Gorgeous shots.

  41. Wow that just took me home and back to my childhood!! - I do a similar chaat masala with guava and of course cucumbers :) lovely!!!

  42. Hello,
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    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

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