From Soup with Pickle Salad to Fried Sesame-Coated Bites: Ravinder Bhogal’s Cucumber Recipes | Summer food and drink


VSool, crunchy and refreshing, cucumbers are like child’s play in a bowl. And there’s more than the green salad and the sandwiches. They’re the perfect foil for hot weather and spicy dishes, and go especially well with anything lactic, like yogurt or buttermilk, or pickled, like soy sauce or vinegar. The long English cucumbers are as moist as the weather in the country, making them ideal for soups, cordials and elegant and cold summer cocktails, while the short and crisp Persian variety retains its shape and texture, which which makes it perfect for pickles, salads or just for snacking. with a pinch of sea salt.

Cucumber and buttermilk soup with pickled cucumber salad (pictured above)

This refreshing soup is ideal to enjoy in the garden when the weather warms up; it also makes a rather pleasant drink if served in a tumbler.

Preparation 10 minutes
Pickle 1h+
To cook 35 minutes
Serves 4

For the pickled cucumber salad
75ml white wine vinegar
30g caster sugar
1 red pepper
cut into thick slices
3 Persian cucumbers
finely chopped dill
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons capers in brine

For the soup
25g of butter
1 small onion
peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground allspice
A pinch of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
peeled and sliced
3 large cucumbershalved lengthwise, seeds scooped out and discarded, then finely chopped
300ml buttermilk
Sea salt and black pepper

Za’atarto serve – I like that of Zaytoun

First prepare the salad. Put the vinegar, sugar and 150 ml of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the minced pepper, then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, peel and halve the cucumbers, scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut the flesh into 5mm dice. Add to the cooled marinade liqueur, then place in the refrigerator to cool and lightly marinate for at least an hour (that said, the marinade can be made up to a day in advance).

To make the soup, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then sauté the onion until soft and translucent, but not coloured. Add the cumin, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaf and sauté for a minute or two, until the spices release their fragrance. Spread the sliced ​​garlic and chopped cucumbers and sauté for eight to 10 minutes, until the cucumbers are tender.

Remove and discard the bay leaf, then pour the mixture into a food processor and blend gently. Refrigerate until cool, then stir in the buttermilk, season to taste and pass through a fine sieve. Refrigerate again until needed.

Divide the soup among four bowls. Drain the pickled cucumber of its liquor, discard the chili and put the cucumber in a medium bowl. Stir in the dill, parsley and capers, spoon a little salad over each portion, sprinkle with a pinch of za’atar and enjoy.

Fried sesame cucumbers with black vinegar and chilli sauce

Ravinder Bhogal’s fried sesame cucumbers with black vinegar and chilli dip.

These fried cucumbers make for compulsive summer eating and can also be made with pickled cucumbers straight from a jar. If using pickles, rinse with water and dry well before flouring and frying. If you’re looking for convenience, substitute the dip for a good quality chili oil, such as Poon’s Extraordinary chilli oil.

Preparation 10 minutes
To cook 25 minutes
Serves 4-6 as a starter

16 lean persian or small cucumberspeeled
300g buttermilk
125g plain flour
115g polenta
1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and black pepper
rapeseed oil
for frying

For the dip
60ml Chinkiang Black Rice Vinegar (at Asian grocery stores; if you can’t find it, use red wine vinegar instead)
40ml soy sauce
1 tablespoon chilli paste
½ teaspoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
peeled and finely grated
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

To make the dip, simply put everything in a jar, seal, and shake until well blended. Reserve until you need it.

Soak peeled cucumbers in buttermilk for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine the flour, polenta, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper and garlic powder, and season.

Heat the oil to 180°C / 350°F in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan (never fill a pan more than half full with oil when frying). If you don’t have a digital thermometer, check by placing a cube of bread on it: the oil is ready if it turns golden in 30 seconds. Have a paper towel-lined plate handy.

Dip the buttermilk-soaked cucumbers into the flour mixture, shake off any excess, then fry in small batches for three to five minutes (time will depend on the thickness of your cucumbers), until golden brown and very crispy. Lift with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and repeat the operation with the remaining cucumbers. Serve with the dip.


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