When preparing meals at home, home cooks know it helps to have a few simple, easy-to-prepare dishes in their cooking repertoire. These are dishes that don’t require too much planning and use some staples found in everyone’s pantry. This is the case with this recipe for “Crunchy Cucumber Salad with Crushed Peanuts” from Ruta Kahate’s “5 Spices, 50 Dishes” (Chronicle Books). Most of the ingredients for this tasty salad are probably already in your kitchen, and it won’t be long after you start preparing the recipe that you’ll be sitting down and enjoying a meal with your family and friends.
Salad of crunchy cucumbers with crushed peanuts
- 2 English cucumbers or other untreated cucumbers, cut into 1⁄4-inch dice (about 3 cups)
- 1 medium green serrano chile, chopped (seeds first if preferred)
- 1⁄2 cup peanuts, preferably raw, but roasted and unsalted will do
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, or more if needed
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon sugar
- 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 1⁄4 teaspoon mustard seeds
Place the diced cucumbers in a medium bowl with the chili. Using a coffee grinder or food processor, grind the peanuts until they are reduced to a coarse powder. (You don’t want chunky peanuts, or a fine powder; stop grinding somewhere in between!) Add the peanuts to the cucumbers along with the lemon juice, salt, and sugar, and mix well. Taste and adjust salt, sugar and lemon juice as needed. The salad should be slightly acidic.
Prepare the tadka: place the cayenne pepper in a small pile on the salad. Do not mix yet. Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. As soon as the seeds stop crackling, pour the oil over the cayenne pepper. Stir in dressing and serve at room temperature or cold.