My Easter meal this past weekend was a fusion menu between my own cultural heritage of Eastern European food (fried rolls, rich sweet bread) and Indian cuisine (tandoori-spiced leg of lamb, sunny yellow pressed rice). This cucumber salad bridges the cultural divide between Eastern Europe and India: both cultures have creamy, cooling salads with dairy and cucumbers. Here's my easy fusion version.
This recipe calls for black mustard seeds, which can be found in the spice section at the grocery store, although they are much, much cheaper when bought in bulk or at an Indian grocery. They don't taste like yellow mustard at all; they just give this toasty, warm, crunchy pop to the cool cucumbers and creamy dressing. They are a common ingredient in cool Indian dishes like raita, and I love them in this more European cucumber salad, too.
Also, this recipe recommends salting and draining the cucumbers first. You can read more about why to do this here.
3 smooth ordinary slicing cucumbers, washed and peeled
Fine table salt
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
4 large shallots, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup sour cream
1 small handful fresh dill, chopped fine
Freshly ground black pepper
Chop the cucumbers in half longwise, then into thin half-moons. Layer in a medium-sized bowl, sprinkling each layer lightly with salt. Put two small plates on top then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Put the cucumbers into a large colander and drain any excess water. Pat lightly with a kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as you can.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook, shaking the pan, until the mustard seeds pop just a bit. This should take no more than a minute or two. Take the skillet off the heat and
pour the seeds into a plate to cool.
Toss the cucumber slices with the shallots, sour cream, and chopped dill. Mix in the cooled mustard seeds. Taste and season with black pepper. You can serve this immediately, or refrigerate it for up to a day before serving.
Related: Also see Dana's cucumber salad here: Seasonal Ingredient: Armenian Cucumbers
(Images: Faith Durand)