Lemon Cucumber/ Cucumis sativus/ Vellarikka (Malayalam)/ Dosakai (Telugu)

I have this ginormous folder with recipes printed out from all over the Inty-Net – over 1000 recipes neatly categorised by types of vegetables – greens, root veggies, allium, squashes, gourds, yadda yadda.

I realised that I haven’t opened that darn folder in two years. (I have another for “desserts”. I don’t remember when I last opened that one.) I’m quite content with knowing one (or two) good ways of cooking each type of veggie.

And then there are five ways I like to deal with most veggies.

1. Juice them.

2. Zap them into a smoothie or soup in my monster Vitamix (Yes, you can make hot soup directly in the Vitamix without ever approaching a stovetop. Even a nine-year old can do it.)

3. Dunk the raw or steamed veggies into yogurt for a raita.

4. Slice them thin and oven-bake them into crisps or, alternatively chips.

We do that with root veggies – potatoes, sweet potatoes, lotus root, parsnips. Also with things like bittergourd and plantains.

5. Then for assorted stragglers in the crisper, or simply things we’re not sure what to do with, we dunk them in lentils and pop them in the pressure cooker. Done. Like that half bunch of spring onions we always have left over.

See a pattern? I’m willing to do a few minutes of prep work, and then it can take as long as it wants to cook, but i’m not hovering over a stove babying it.

Seriously, who needs hundreds and thousands of recipes if you aren’t going to use them? I’d have mailed that big honking file to someone, but it’d cost a good amount to ship and i’m not sure if it’s worth that.

We hardly consult our recipe books any more. Both of us cook on the fly and refuse to spend more than 10 minutes – 15 max – fussing around the kitchen on a weeknight. The elaborate recipes with 15 steps and 20 ingredients that start with “chop and fry 2 onions” that may feature here in the future are all from old drafts.

So I bought this lemon cuke a week ago simply because it looked darn cute. This cuke is sweet, lemony and juicy – like a tart honeydew melon – absolutely delicious just with salt and cayenne. There’s a very simple recipe from Kerala with coconut I make with it (will post it soon), but this time, I just decided to do the dal thing. The fuckupability factor is low and there isn’t a version of this barebones lentil dish that we haven’t liked.

Serves 4 to 5

Boil together in a pressure cooker (2-3 whistles) or on the stovetop

2.5 cups skinned and cubed lemon cuke
1/2 cup toor/arhar dal (split pigeon peas)
**any split peas or lentils will work.
salt to taste
1 tsp chopped green chillies
1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/3 tsp turmeric
2 cups water

After the pressure is released, open the lid and mash everything together. Add more hot water if you want to thin it out.

Add 2 to 3 tbsps chopped herbs.

It’s usually cilantro or basil, but this time we used dill from our herb garden.

1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) – vegans use oil

and add
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

When they sizzle and turn a shade darker, add it to the dal. Stir and serve.

Lemon Cuke with Lentils goes to Weekend Herb Blogging @ Maninas: Food Matters.

Tonight’s Dinner: Lemon Cuke Dal with Sourdough Rotis

Atta/chapati flour/roti flour = fine whole wheat flour used to make flatbreads.

Dear Indian and Canadian atta manufacturers,

I’ve baked a couple hundred breads and made several stacks of rotis in my lifetime. I’ve handled enough flour to know that all of your attas – except Annapurna and Aashirvaad – suck tomatillos. Half of you add all purpose flour stale all purpose flour to the mix and grind it too fine. Even the bugs stay away from them.

Those of you who don’t add stale all purpose flour to the mix grind it too fine as well. Whatever you call it – “durum flour”, “whole wheat flour” (note how you don’t say “100%”), or “my grandpa’s snuff” – it doesn’t matter. It has very little texture or flavour.

My Indian grocer carried those two decent brands for a few months and I even baked a few breads with them. Then he couldn’t source them. Guess what? I made these sourdough rotis with Wheat Montana regular whole wheat flour. I would prefer a finer grind, but this flour is good. Go to a regular grocery store in the U.S. Even Hell-Mart will do. There are even a host of organic brands available. Buy a bag. Open it and inhale the aroma slowwwwwly. Then smell the tripe that you sell. Notice the difference?

I’m done hunting for a decent atta. I’ve tried almost every brand there is – those named after assorted Indian girls, goddesses, the fat doughboy, the saint, the glittery place of worship, the lion, the ’60s Indian actress with the beehive hairdo. I.AM.DONE.

That thing that you call “chakki atta”?? Change it to “sucky atta”. That’s what it truly is. Yeah, yeah, I know “chakki” means “stone ground”. Guess what? Stale flavourless flour, even stone ground, sucks.


Bee, the Jugalbandit.

Recipe for sourdough rotis HERE.

I used 1/4 cup starter with 1.25 cups flour and got 10 small rotis. I’m no expert roti maker. I make them maybe four times a year. (Even less reason to store a separate bag of atta and another of whole wheat flour in the fridge.)

I even got 9 out of these 10 to puff up. Like this. Me want to jive to Jai Ho.

If you’re wondering if I just called Jai a Ho, I didn’t. In Hindi,
Jai = Victory.
Hona = To Be.
Jai Ho = Be Victorious.

Music by AllahRakha Rahman
Film: Slumdog Millionaire

The rotis go to my favourite baker for YeastSpotting.

Have a non-sucky weekend,


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  1. Margie says:

    The photo had me at first glance, the letter? Oh, it just put this post OVER THE TOP! 2Funny, Bee…and I can relate on some Americanized ‘junk’ too.

  2. Lara says:

    Thank you for sharing, stumbled upon your website reading comments from 101 cookbooks comments. I like your philosophy on cooking… not spending so much time in the kitchen preparing, still making beautiful meals. I’d love to receive your blog via email… do you do that sort of thing?? Thanks a million.

  3. Nagma says:

    Very interesting recipe. It must be very tasty

  4. [...] with salt and cayenne. If you have too many of them, as we did last summer, you can either make cook them with lentils,, make Sailu’s Red Hot Andhra Pickle or a Creamy [...]

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