Cucumbers in Delicate Broth
This recipe was offered in the February/March issue of Back to Godhead magazine, paired with an article by Vishakha Dasi on what she called the "vegetarian blues". She especially talks about how it can be awkward to be a vegetarian in a very non-vegetarian world.
Vishakha Dasi offers some very real advice on how to engage your non-vegetarian friends and family, as well as how to keep yourself interested in your karma-free diet. The general idea thought seems to be to learn to cook interesting and exciting meals, offer your food to Krishna, and share it with your friends and family. Everyone benefits!
This is one of the three dishes she suggests to try that will excite you about the possibilities in vegetarian cooking. Yamuna Devi herself fine tuned this recipe many years ago from a traditional Indian dish called Kukri Ras (loosely translated to cucumber broth soup).
If you aren't used to cooking with chilis, be careful when handling the seeds. Also when you first put them and the ginger into the hot oil, it can sizzle and pop, so keep your hands back!
Select firm cucumbers, 6 to 7 inches long with bright green skins and round ends. If the cucumbers are filled with seeds, scoop them out and use only the firm flesh. To remove excess bitterness, sprinkle the cut cucumbers with salt and allow them to sit for about 30 minutes; then rinse and cut as directed.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1/2-inch square piece of scraped ginger root, sliced into paper-thin strips
1/4 to 1 teaspoon fresh hot green chilis, seeded and sliced into paper-thin strips
1 teaspoon cumin seeds pinch of asafoetida powder
14 ounces peeled cucumbers, cut into small sticks or cubes
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener
1/8 teaspoon garam masala, if available
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander or parsley leaves
1. Heat the ghee or oil in a 2-quart saucepan over a medium-high flame until a haze forms over the surface. Drop in the strips of ginger and chilis and the cumin seeds, and fry until the seasonings turn a light golden brown. Sprinkle in the asafoetida powder, and then add the cucumbers, the cayenne or paprika, and the turmeric. Stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the water and salt and bring to a full boil. Reduce the flame to low, cover, and simmer slowly for 20 minutes or until the cucumbers are tender and translucent, but not mushy. Remove the pan from the flame and gently blend in the lime juice, sweetener, garam masala, and minced herbs. Cover and allow to sit for 2 or 3 minutes before offering to Krishna.