Nepalese food is spicy, and this recipe is traditionally finished with tempered (fried) chilies and fenugreek seeds — making it very hot and slightly bitter. This recipe uses less chili to accommodate the Western palate and calls for nigella seeds or cumin instead of fenugreek.
Makes four to six servings
Prep time: five to 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 to 40 minutes
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
- 1 lb. potatoes, one type only or a mixture of sweet, white, or new, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tbs. sesame seeds
- Juice of 1 large lemon, plus extra to taste
- 4 tbs. olive oil
- 1⁄2 to 1 red or green chili, according to taste, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp. nigella seeds or cumin, toasted and ground
- 1⁄2 tsp. Szechuan peppercorns, ground (available at Asian markets)
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- Large handful of cilantro, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped
- Large handful of mint leaves, tough stalks removed, roughly chopped
- Peel the cucumber and halve lengthwise; scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut into sticks about 1⁄2 inch wide and 2 inches long. Place into a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, and set aside for 30 minutes. (This will bring out the moisture and ensure the cucumber sticks offer a crunch to the salad.)
- Soak the onion slices in cold water.
- Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in plenty of boiling salted water until tender and just cooked but not falling apart, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool a little.
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until they start to pop and become golden brown. Remove from the heat and pour onto a plate to cool.
- Rinse the cucumber slices and drain well, then transfer to a large mixing bowl. Drain the onions and add them and the potatoes and lemon juice to the bowl.
- To temper the chili and spices, first warm the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the chili and cook until it starts to brown. Add the remaining spices and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Pour this oil-spice mixture over the salad, add the fresh herbs and sesame seeds, and mix together. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as necessary. Serve at room temperature.
Tip: This dish is great served with halved hard-boiled eggs and mango chutney or cucumber raita.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Around the World in 120 Salads by Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi © 2017 Kyle Books, photographs © Helen Cathcart. No images may be used, in print or electronically, without written consent from the publisher.
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