Minted cucumbers and strawberry stacks (Kheera kachumbar)

I have done a number of salads this year with strawberries but I also wanted to top it off with the wonderful Indian-influenced salad.

A kachumbar is the term used for an Indian salad, usually one with tomatoes, onions and lime juice as the basic components. However, with todays more contemporary and fusion Indian cuisine, the definition has been broadened to include any Indian salad. Kachumbars are served along with the main course as a side condiment, to enhance the flavors of the main dishes. However, I would also serve this salad alone as a simple salad course as the flavors are so distinct and wonderful, or as a small palate cleanser between courses.

This is a very simple salad, just an assembly job in reality, but the visuals and flavors are wonderful. The crunchy cucumbers are complimented by the sweet-tart strawberries and the hint of chili adds that last pop of flavor. This is also that perfect salad for the hot days of summer, light, cool and refreshing. I also gave this recipe an alternate contemporary look by stacking the strawberries on top of the cucumbers.

Yamuna Devi's cookbook is probably the first cookbook I bought when I moved to the US 30 years ago for my Ph.D. Over the years, I have cooked almost half the recipes, it is the cookbook that taught me technique, flavor profiles and always gave me a wonderful meal. This vegetarian cookbook is essential on any shelf, it is the bible of Indian vegetarian cuisine.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

3 baby cucumbers, peeled and cut into wedges

1 pack strawberries, hulled washed and quartered lengthwise

2 teaspoon s lime juice

3 tablespoons orange juice

A handful mint, torn roughly + more to garnish

1/2 teaspoon chili powder, spicy preferred

2 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil

Salt, to taste


The simple way to serve this salad is to toss the ingredients in a bowl right before you serve the salad and garnish with the mint. Serve in a large bowl. I prefer to not make this salad ahead of time as the cucumbers and fruit give out juices that makes the salad watery. Assemble just before you serve.


Alternatively, for a more dressed up version, cut the cucumbers into even short stacks, and cut each stack into 1/2 or 1/4 longitudinally. Cut the strawberries in half horizontally. Arrange the cucumbers on a platter. Sprinkle some chili powder, just a touch, on each stack. Arrange the strawberries on top of each cucumber. Drizzle with the juices. Serve garnished with torn mint.

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