Indians don’t eat salads the way Europeans or Americans do……as a course on its own. It is always served as an accompaniment to the main course. That is not to say that Indian salads don’t taste good. They do……reflecting the tastes that make Indian food ……well Indian. Sweet, spice, sour, crunch…..you get them all ! I have , over the years figured out ways to bulk them up and make a meal from them but once in a while I make a salad just as an accompaniment. This is one such salad.
Indian food being so full of spices and sometimes heat, almost all Indian salads are on the cool side. This one is no exception…..made with English Cucumbers, it is cool , crunchy and delicious. Another facet to Indian salads is that they don’t have more than 3-4 ingredients. South Indian salads always have a tadka, almost always with mustard seeds. Tadka is a tempering where spices are added to hot oil to bring out their flavour and then poured over the dish along with oil.
Back to the recipe at hand, I made this salad with cucumbers and peanuts, yes, just two ingredients and it is flavoured with a lime dressing……..if you can call squeezing lime juice over it , dressing !!!!! I then poured a tadka over it and presto you have a salad……….the CUCUMBER PEANUT SALAD ! It is one of the easiest and simplest salads I have ever made and certainly one of the most delicious. B, you asked me for salad recipes a month or so ago, I have finally delivered one ……I promise that there are more to come !!!
CUCUMBER PEANUT SALAD
2 cups English Cucumber, chopped in small cubes
½ cup Peanuts, toasted and coarsely crushed
1 Thai Green Chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tsp Salt
¾ tsp Sugar
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Oil
Mix together all the ingredients except the oil and mustard seeds.
Heat the oil in a small pan and then add the mustard seeds.
Once they start to pop, remove the pan from the heat and then pour the mixture over the salad. Mix well.
Chill for ½ an hour to 1 hour and then serve.
I love this salad. I can serve it with almost any Indian dish, be it from the north or the south !!! As you can see it is ridiculously easy to make. I used English Cucumbers as the skin is very thin and I don’t need to peel it. If you have only regular cucumbers, just peel the skin and proceed with the recipe . To toast the peanuts, just place them on a thick bottomed pan with no oil and saute them till they darken slightly. Remove them from the heat and cool slightly . To crush them I place them on a board and cover them with a dish towel and then roll over them with a rolling pin. I also used mint that day but the recipe certainly stands on its own and does not need it if you don’t have it or want it !!!
It is a cool refreshing salad. Both the peanuts and cucumbers have crunch with the cucumber tasting like water with a hint of sugar and the smell of grass, while the peanuts provide a buttery nuttiness that complements it !!!! The Thai chilli, even though divested of its heat producing seeds, provide just enough heat from the flesh ! The astringency of the lime juice is balanced by the sugar and the bitterness of the mustard seeds !!! All in all its encapsulates Indian cooking and I love it !!