23 June 2006


They say it's summer, although I don't think I've managed to truly enjoy more than a few days of it so far...due to overcommitments and loads of obligations and some fickle weather patterns, the humans in my house are both feeling a little more rushed than we'd like. Alas, summer progresses whether you have time for it or not. So we're trying harder to enjoy it, dammit. And there's always the impending vacation to look forward to!

In the heat of summer, cooking is a beast. You can barbeque just about anything, but usually the repertoire falls short mid-week, right on the hottest, most humid night of the year.

And so it was this past Wednesday, with a tight tennis-lesson-at-7pm deadline staring me down. I stopped to pick up some veggie pakora and some locally made samosas after work, but had no options for side dishes with veggie content. Inspiration struck as I rode the motorbike home from the store.

And it passed muster. Here, a truly simple, absolutely flaming fast dish for any hot summer night, and most certainly one on which you're eating East Indian food. As we all know, yogourt puts out any fires, and certainly protects the stomachs of more sensitive diners from any cumin-induced discomfort.

Make ahead - one or two hours. The whole thing only takes about 10 minutes to prepare, and that only if you're going out in the backyard to pick your own mint!

Fresh mint
Plain yogourt (skim or regular)
Salt & Pepper
White sugar

Rinse and pat dry the mint. Use about 1/3 cup loose leaves for two to three people. Do 1/2 cup to feed a gang.

Chop the mint roughly. Throw in a small mixing bowl. Add yogurt (1/2 to 3/4 cup for 2-3 peeps, 1 full cup for more). Add one to two teaspoons of white sugar. Toss in some black pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Take a field cucumber and scrub it well. Peel. Alternatively, wash an English (seedless) cucumber and don't peel it. Either way, pat the cucumbers dry after washing.

[How many cukes? I allow about three inches of mid-size cucumber per serving, but that might be too much. Do less if you're shy. The salad doesn't keep more than a day, so you might want to err on the side of less leftovers.]

Slice the cucumber into somewhat thin rounds (but not paper thin). Set in a glass serving bowl. Sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper, then cover with the yogourt dressing. Mix very gently.

Cover, refrigerate for one hour. Garnish, if you please, with a hefty stalk of mint leaves.

Told you it was easy.

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