Minted Cucumbers and Strawberries
Though mint and cucumber are a year-round favorite salad combination in India, strawberries are a rare treat. The first time I savored them, they were hand-delivered –carefully wrapped in a khus leaf parcel and perhaps the importance of the occasion made them the sweetest I had ever eaten. Because they are such a rarity in India, they are almost always relished on their own or in this type of simple salad. In England I take advantage of red or black currants, and in America I might use golden raspberries, loganberries, lingonberries or blueberries. Though not available in India, hazelnut oil is perfect for a delicate fruit salad, but you could use almond or walnut oil, or leave out the oil entirely.
Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 15-20 minutes
• European-type cucumbers (about ½ pound/230 g each) – 2 long
• Strawberries, rinsed and drained – 2 pints (480 ml)
• Lemon juice – 2 table spoons (30 ml)
• Orange juice – 3 table spoons (45 ml)
• Finely chopped fresh mint – ¼ cup (60 ml)
• Cayenne pepper or paprika – 1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml)
• Hazelnut or alternative oil – 2 table spoons (30 ml)
1. Peel the cucumbers and cut them crosswise into two or three pieces. Cut each piece lengthwise into four sections. Arrange the wedges in a pattern on a large salad plate. Remove the leaves and core from the strawberries by gathering up the leaves and stem cap and pulling away with a twist. Slice each one in half from cap to tip. Arrange in a decorative pattern between the cucumber wedges.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, mint, cayenne or paprika and oil until emulsified. Pour over the salad just before serving.
By Yamuna Devi Dasi