Through used book stores and library discard sales we have been amassing a pretty decent cook book collection. One of our favorite finds has always been Anjum’s New Indian by Anjum Anand which has recipes from the Cooking Channel’s Indian Food Made Easy. We love the way the author starts each recipe with a little history or discussion about the flavors she is using. When we think of Indian food we think comfort food. (Have you seen the new movie The Lunch Box?) We think fall or winter. Summer does not always pop into our minds. Her recipe for Lightly Spiced Cucumber, Peas and Mint starts off by saying it is a summer recipe. It was the perfect choice for a family that just came home with a bag full of cucumbers from the farmers market who were hoping to find a new way to use them.
The ingredients are quite simple. We might have gravitated to this particular recipe because we did have all the ingredients in the house (a rare occasion)…but in the end we were glad we did as the flavors are not flavors we always turn to.
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (brown is suggested but we went with regular)
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon pure red chile powder
1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin moons
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon shredded mint leaves
Heat the oil in a frying pan and then add the cumin and mustard seeds, cooking until they begin to pop. At that point add the rest of the spices and the salt and immediately add the cucumber. Cook over a medium heat for about four minutes. Add the peas and cook for an additional two to three minutes. Stir in the yogurt and mint, warm for two minutes and serve.
It was that easy. In her description she says that the peas add a fresh sweetness in the “slightly tart gravy”…we found the gravy to be less tart and more bitter. The entire dish had a very woodsy or smokey flavor. Cooking cucumbers is common in different regions in India but we can honestly say that we have not cooked them before. This was fun to try and opened up a great discussion about a different culture over our dinner table- something we try to do with our kids as often as possible.