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Crisp summer cucumbers done three ways and a clip of my Radio show at the Minneapolis Farmers Market

August 15, 2011
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I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the summer session at school! Up until just a year ago, I never thought I’d step into a formal school of learning again… and here I am, (almost) 4 classes down! (11 more to go ๐Ÿ™‚ ). In the midst of writing term-end papers and take-home exams, I woke up early on August 6th morning, assembled about a dozen spicy potato puff pastries, baked them, and then headed over to AM950 to talk live at the Fresh & Local Radio show, of the Minneapolis Farmers Market. As hosts Bonnie Dehn and Susan Berkson dug into the warm, savory puff pastries, we chatted about summer, farming, new recipes, and… cucumbers!

Me with Susan Berkson (standing) and Bonnie Dehn of Dehns Farms

Cucumbers are now in season at the Farmers Market here and I couldn’t help but think of home, and eating slices of crisp, cool cucumbers, sprinkled with some tangy, mouth-watering chaat masala…mmm…

It also reminded me of the gazillion different ways we Indians prepare cucumbers, from kachumbar (chopped salad), to raitas (yogurt-based condiment) done in endless ways. Much to my delight, Susan & Bonnie asked me to share my cucumber recipes on the show. We also talked about how Indian food uses cumin, and how different treatments of the herb can result in different taste notes. You can hear a short version of the recipes and listen to the whole radio show HERE.

Before I continue… here’s wishing all my fellow desis a very Happy Independence Day!! Jai Hind!! GO INDIAA!! Wish I was home today watching a flag-hoisting ceremony…

In today’s post, I will be sharing THREE very simple, very easy ways that you can prepare fresh cucumbers in the Indian style.

The goodies I got from Bonnie of Dehns Gardens - Basil, summer salad, carrots, chives, cilantro

Recipe 1 – Kachumbar

Indians from other parts of the country call this cooling cucumber preparation by different names and may prepare it with minor modifications. You could say, Kachumbar, is the Indian version of the Mexican Pico de Gallo.

Mix all the following together…

  • 1 medium sized cucumber – chopped
  • 1 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized tomato – chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2-3 tbsp of fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (available in any specialty Indian grocery store)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar

…and serve cold with lentils & rice, or any Indian meal.

Recipe 2 – From Kachumbar to Cucumber Raita

Simply take the Kachumbar recipe above, and add 3-4 large spoonfuls of yogurt and 1/4 tsp cumin powder. (If you have roasted, cracked cumin on hand, use that instead – adds a delightful smoky flavor!) Mix well with 2-3 tbsp of water, chill for 10 minutes, and serve! This is an excellent coolant in hot, humid Indian summers, and helps tone down spicy curries.


Recipe 3 – Grated cucumber Raita

Roughly grate (use the largest grate option on your grater) 1 small cucumber. Drain out any juice, and reserve for a cocktail or cooling drink. Mix with 2-3 large spoonfuls of yogurt, 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, salt to taste, freshly cracked black pepper, and 1/4 tsp chaat masala. Chill and serve!

What have you done this summer that you’ve been proud of? What have you cooked / eaten / experienced?

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. pattyabr permalink
    August 15, 2011 9:05 am

    Very nice. pretty pics. So what is chaat masala? a spice or a liquid wine?

    Sadly my tomatoes have not sprung back from a hail storm- no flowers – although the plants are still green with leaves. We yielded two tomatoes. The cucumbers got wiped out-completely. We do have zucchinni and spaghetti squash that are rallying. We have lovely chard and rhubarb that we have enjoyed all summer.

    • August 15, 2011 5:06 pm

      Sorry about your plants, Patty ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bonnie Dehn, who who was co-host at the Radio show and who is a farmer was complaining about how much damage all the extra rain and heat has done to her veggies and herbs. Hopefully, next season you’ll have a good yield.

      Chaat Masala is a powdered spice that is made from combining several different whole spices and rock salt. It is a popular spice sprinkled over fresh cut fruit and veggies in India.

  2. August 15, 2011 9:18 am

    Made refrigerator pickles with – you guessed it- cucumbers.

  3. August 15, 2011 9:43 am

    This are very seasonal recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  4. August 15, 2011 11:49 am

    OMG..what a co incidence, I posted a kachumer recipe myself today..isnt it the best way to pair up any kind of meal with? Enjoy your week!

    • August 15, 2011 5:11 pm

      Oh yes, you have! Great minds think alike? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. August 17, 2011 2:39 am

    Go India? GO SABERA!!!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. August 18, 2011 10:53 am

    I heard your radio clipping… way to go Sabera..:-)

    • August 18, 2011 11:01 am

      Thank you for taking the time to listen, Anita ๐Ÿ™‚ I did stutter in a few places but I think I did better than the first one ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. August 19, 2011 8:08 pm

    Hi Sabera,
    I make these raitas frequently too. I also listened to your entire radio clip. Great job on articulating your thoughts so well. There’s another raita that a family person taught me. Take yogurt, and some sour cream (i use low-fat). And then put the usual veggies – cucumber, green peppers, onions, tomatoes. And she uses split yellow mustard (they are those tiny split yellow mustard things, known as ‘kuria’ in india). I would suggest making it a couple of hours in advance. That way the flavor of split mustard infuses well in the yogurt and sour cream. And add salt in the end, so it doesn’t become watery. It tastes really really nice. Good luck with school and the blog!

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