Not exactly a salad, but rather a cooling accompaniment traditionally served with highly spiced meals in South Asia, the North African coast, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In India, raita. In Greece, tzatziki. In Turkey, cacik. In the Middle East, khiyar bi lben. Especially favored served with grilled, braised, or roasted marinated meats, poultry, or vegetables.
The recipe that follows is an adaptation of the classics with the addition of radishes and vine ripe tomatoes. Nothing complicated. Very easy to prepare and adds just the right note to balance both the fiery chilies and nuanced spice blends used for your next foray into Indian. North African or East Mediterranean cooking!
Recently, spectacularly soothing, served with fiery braised yogurt marinated chicken with yellow cardamon rice, which I will post forthwith!
Crisp Cooling Cucumber Radish Salad with Mint Serves 4
For the salad:
- 4 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced/ about 4 cups
- sea salt
- 8 radishes, thinly sliced /about 2 cups (optional)
- 4 shallots, skin removed, and thinly sliced/ about ½ cup
- 2 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (optional)
- rocket (arugula)
- za’atar (optional) (see here)
- fresh mint leaves for garnish
Place the sliced cucumbers in a colander and lightly salt them, tossing to distribute the salt evenly. Set aside to drain for half an hour. Blot with paper towels to remove excess water and place in a bowl. Add the radishes, and shallots and toss. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Dressing: Makes 1 cup
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
- 1 cup drained yogurt, or Greek style yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves
- cold water
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds until lightly colored and aromatic. Transfer promptly to a mortar and grind together.
Place the yogurt in a small mixing bowl and add the ground cumin and coriander, ground white pepper, lemon or lime juice, honey, sea salt and the chopped mint. Stir until completely combined. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
If the dressing is very stiff stir in cold water by the teaspoon full until the consistency is like thick heavy cream. Pour the dressing over the sliced cucumbers, radishes, and shallots, and toss to completely coat the ingredients.
Arrange the rocket on a serving plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the dressed cucumber salad in the center. Place the tomatoes around the edges, lightly dust the top with za’atar (if using), and garnish with fresh mint leaves
Also an excellent dressing for mixed garden greens salad!