I think it is save to say that this dinner is a direct result of the fact that my husband downloaded all six episodes of Michael Palin’s 2004 BBC series on traveling through the Himalaya region by train.
In the first episode of the series, I resisted watching. In the second, with scenes of snow-capped mountains and the elaborate daily flag-raising ceremony on the border of Pakistan and India, I was interested. By the time Palin was making his way up into the mountains by train, being offered curry and naan by a woman who worked for Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense, I was hooked. (And hungry.)
This is one of the many recipes over at 101 Cookbooks that I have had bookmarked for months, but finally came across again tonight, thinking it would be perfect for a light summer dinner. Somewhere around the toasting of the mustard seeds, I started to wonder how all of the ingredients could possibly come together, but I pushed forward. And in the end, I absolutely loved the combination.
The salad was refreshing, light, and had layers of flavors that were subtle but truly “worked”. I made only a few small adjustments to avoid turning on the oven (toasting the peanuts and coconut on the stove instead) and used honey to give the salad a bit of sweetness instead of cane sugar.
- 3 medium cucumbers
- 1 green serrano chile, stemmed and minced
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. honey (original recipe calls for cane sugar)
- ½ cup peanuts (unsalted)
- ⅓ cup dried unsweetened large-flake coconut
- 1 Tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil (the original recipe calls for ghee)
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- scant ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- a handful cilantro, chopped
- Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into small pieces. Pour into a large bowl. Add minced serrano chile. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and honey. Pour this over the cucumbers and chile, tossing to combine.
- In a small dry pan, toast the peanuts over medium heat, tossing or stirring frequently until dark brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Pour the peanuts into a bowl and repeat the toasting process with the coconut until evenly browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut to the peanuts and wipe the pan clean. Return it to the heat.
- Add the vegetable oil to the pan over medium heat. When hot stir in the mustard seeds. They are going to sputter and spit a bit, and when this starts to happen, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds, just long enough to toast the spices. (Cover with a lid if needed.) Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and immediately pour this over the cucumbers. Gently toss in peanuts and coconut. Turn out onto a patter and top with the cilantro.