This a fresh salad with just a hint of cumin in the yoghurt dressing to lift the recipe. The fresh flavour of the baby spinach and cucumber are brought out by the creaminess of the slightly spiced yoghurt. Another typical Mumbai salad dish.
This dish, as presented here, would be banned by my grandmother. She did not allow uncooked food, other than things that could be washed then peeled, so the idea of eating fresh leaves, or even tomatoes was problematic for her. Times have changed and food hygiene is somewhat simpler today than it was in her time.
In her recipe the spinach was blanched and lost its fresh flavour. All I have done to her recipe is to not blanch the spinach. This recipe would work well with different leaves, but I would recommend using strongly flavoured ones. Iceberg lettuce leaves, for example, would be lost in this recipe.
I am surprised how few salads of this type I have come across in her notes. I would have thought that the Raj would have liked this after a stinking hot day, running around doing their colonial chores. Something light like a kebab or tikka with a salad like this would have been ideal. Apparently not.
More study is required and I will see if I can re-purpose some of her dressing-like recipes.
One item of note is the use of the cucumber juice. It is a common technique to remove the pulp from a cucumber and harvest the resulting juice. Works well in most cucumber dishes, particularly cucumber raita.
- 120 g spinach leaves
- 2 lebanese cucumbers
- 1 red onion halved and sliced
for the dressing
- 100 ml yoghurt
- 1 tbsp cucumber juice (see instructions)
- ½ lemon juiced
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp salt
Wash and dry spinach.
Peel cucumbers, remove ends and cut lengthwise into halves. Using a teaspoon, scrape the pulp and seeds from the centre of the cucumbers and set aside. Cut cucumber into 5cm batons.
Put the cucumber pulp into a sieve and, using the back of a spoon, force the juice from the pulp into a small bowl. You only need around one tablespoon, which is about one cucumber.
Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the juice and stir well.
Place spinach leaves, cucumber batons and onion half-rings and dressing into a dish and mix well.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.