Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,

The Cooking of India

A while back, I acquired my mom's Time-Life Foods of the World collection, from the late '60s/early '70s, and I have been reading them at breakfast.

I think they must have been printed right on the cusp of when people figured out how to photograph food and print the photos properly, because I know she's also got a cookbook from sometime in the sixties where all the colors are off and everything looks horrible. These books are from not much later, and while aren't quite up to the level of the two food-porn "cookbooks" I have that were done by a photographer and make you want to lick the page, the images are all pretty appealing despite the vintage slightly-offness of the color process.

The writing is also good, and it's interesting because in some ways the difference in time now is almost as exotic as the difference in space was then; all these foreign places were much further away fifty years ago than they are now. The books explain what things like cilantro and tofu are. And in the back of the book there are lists of places where you can mail-order ingredients from. No phone numbers or anything, just mailing addresses.

Anyway, tonight I made a cucumber raita from the Cooking of India book, and I was so pleased with how it turned out that I thought I would share the recipe. I'm not sure if it's because I used fancy greek-style yogurt in it, or because the tomato gives it some umami depth, or maybe because it's a little saltier than restaurant raita usually is, or what, but it was really, really tasty.

Kheera ka Rayta

1 cucumber
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 Tbsp salt
1 small tomato, diced
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 cup unflavored yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin

Peel and halve the cucumber and scoop out the seeds. Slice it lengthwise fairly thin (1/8 inch) and crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.

Mix the cucumber, onion, and salt in a bowl (or strainer) and let it sit for five minutes, then squeeze it gently to get rid of excess liquid.

Chop the tomato and cilantro while the cucumber is sitting, and then mix them thoroughly with the cucumber.

Toast the cumin for 30 seconds in a dry pan, then combine it and the yogurt with the vegetables and mix it all well.

Chill 1 hour.

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