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Updated: June 23, 2010 19:35 IST

Cucumber is cool, but...

BHOLANATH JHA
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TRY PICKLING THEM: Cucumbers. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
The Hindu
TRY PICKLING THEM: Cucumbers. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The high water content in cucumbers gives them a unique moist and chill taste. Cucumbers are cylindrical in shape and commonly range in length from six to nine inches, although they can be smaller or much larger. Their skin, which ranges in colour from green to white may either be smooth or ridged, depending on the variety. The flesh is pale green, dense yet aqueous and crunchy. There are numerous edible, fleshy seeds.

As cucumbers are sensitive to heat, choose ones that are displayed in refrigerated cases in the market. They should be firm, rounded at the edges, and their colour should be bright medium to dark green. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow, puffy, have sunken water-soaked areas, or are wrinkled at their tips. Thinner cucumbers will generally have less seeds than those that are thicker. While many people are used to purchasing cucumbers that have a waxy coating, choose those that do not have this coating, so the nutrient-rich skin can be eaten without consuming the wax and chemicals trapped in it.

Cucumbers are a rich source of vitamin C and the mineral molybdenum. They are also rich in vitamin A, potassium, manganese, folate, dietary fibre and magnesium and contain the important mineral silica.

Now, for a recipe.

Cucumber pickle

Ingredients

White vinegar: 70 ml

Water: 70 ml

Sugar: 70 gm

Salt: 5 gm

Cucumbers: 6, small

Onion, coarsely chopped: 45 gm

Red chillies, thinly sliced: 10 gm

Method: In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Cook on medium heat for about three to four minutes, stirring often, until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and let the dressing cool to room temperature. Peel the cucumbers and cut them lengthwise into 4 long strips. Slice each strip across into small triangles. (You should have about 3 cups.) Place them in a small serving bowl or in several small serving bowls. Top with the chopped shallots and chillies.

Shortly before serving, pour the cooled dressing over the cucumbers. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for a day or two; serve cold.

BHOLANATH JHA,Chef de Partie,Taj Connemara

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