Cucumber and lime. Just the thought of those two ingredients refreshes me. Plus they go together like …. bread and butter, gin and tonic, sugar and spice.
It’s hotter than an Inferno where I live, which is typical. We went straight from our schizophrenic spring weather to a sweltering heatwave within a week’s time. Ready or not, it’s time to let the season guide my menu cravings.
I turned to one of my favorite hot-weather flavor profiles – tart citrus; fresh, spicy chiles and cool-crunchy cucumbers. To me, that combination points in the direction of Asia and India.
I found the perfect recipe for what I had in mind with this Indian cucumber salad, Khamang Kakdi, in How to Cook Indian, one of my newest cookbooks. I think this book will become a definite favorite of mine. It’s huge, with a broad collection of easy and delicious-sounding recipes. There are no photos at all, but somehow that isn’t a problem since the information is so thorough and the design so appealing.
I love the utter simplicity of this salad. With just a few spices, a hit of citrus, toasty peanuts and a sweet exotic touch of coconut, cucumbers are transformed into something complex and unordinary.
Be warned, it’s a slightly addictive little salad.
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 Serrano pepper or 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil (or olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Put the cucumber, chile pepper, peanuts, 2 tablespoons of the coconut, lime juice and sugar in a large bowl.
- Heat the oil in a small saute pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle and pop, stir in the cumin, salt and remaining 2 tablespoons coconut. Turn off the heat.
- Pour the mustard seed mixture over the cucumbers and toss everything together. Taste to make sure it's salty-sweet enough for your taste.
Adapted from a recipe in How to Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor