Tarator – Chilled Cucumber Soup

Super tasty and extremely refreshing, this cold cucumber soup is the perfect dish to cool you down during those hot summer days.

Super tasty and extremely refreshing, this cold cucumber soup is the perfect dish to cool you down during those hot summer days. Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian summer soup, which can be found on the menu of many restaurants and diners. It’s actually a chilled soup, though some people prefer to call it a liquid salad, which really does work well on the pallet. The soup is very easy to prepare and it can be on the table within minutes… Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian summer soup, which can be found on the menu of many restaurants and diners.  It’s actually a chilled soup, though some people prefer to call it a liquid salad, which really does work well on the pallet. The soup is very easy to prepare and it can be on the table within minutes…

Personally I was avoiding this dish for quite some time now, the idea of a yogurt soup simply didn’t appeal to me very much, but then came that moment when visiting friends and I was cornered with no escape, the dish sat before me on the table coaxing me to try and surrounded by expectant faces waiting to see my reaction to eating it. To everyone’s joy, there was no screwed up face just wide eyes and that feeling of hmmm… more… now I’ve tried it, there is just no going back… it is definitely staying on the regular “go to” menu in our household.

One thing to have in mind, the longer you leave it in the fridge, the more intense the flavours…

The recipe below is for quite a large portion but we usually keep it in the fridge for up to a week, as the intensifying of the flavours works for us rather well, and it’s wonderful to be able to just open the fridge and grab a bowlful when you want a snack or a starter. If you think it’s going to make way too much for you or you just want to try and see if it’s for you simply halve the ingredients and prepare a smaller serving.

Ingredients:

  • 800ml Greek yogurt
  • 400ml filtered chilled water
  • 4 large garlic cloves; minced
  • 1kg cucumbers
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill; finely chopped
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp black pepper (optional)
  • Ice cubes – for serving (optional)

Super tasty and extremely refreshing, this cold cucumber soup is the perfect dish to cool you down during those hot summer days. Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian summer soup, which can be found on the menu of many restaurants and diners. It’s actually a chilled soup, though some people prefer to call it a liquid salad, which really does work well on the pallet. The soup is very easy to prepare and it can be on the table within minutes…

Method:

Wash the cucumbers (do not peel) then grate half of them; the remaining half chop into cubes. Place them in a large bowl and add the salt – let them rest like this for at least 5 minutes so they can start to absorb some of the salt.

In the meantime, mince the garlic and finely chop the dill and add to the cucumber mix.

Add the yogurt and water to your cucumbers, season with fresh cracked pepper and mix well.

Serve well chilled or even better over some ice and enjoy the cool sensation.

See, told you it was easy, now go and enjoy!

Super tasty and extremely refreshing, this cold cucumber soup is the perfect dish to cool you down during those hot summer days. Tarator is a traditional Bulgarian summer soup, which can be found on the menu of many restaurants and diners. It’s actually a chilled soup, though some people prefer to call it a liquid salad, which really does work well on the pallet. The soup is very easy to prepare and it can be on the table within minutes…

I Love India – Homemade Lassi and Falooda

This classic sweet and salty mint lassi is very popular in the northern Punjab, where field workers use it to replenish their bodies with both salt and sugar whilst refreshing and cooling themselves with the buttermilk, mint and cumin seeds. Easier to digest than milk and yogurt, buttermilk is considered a light and healthy way to get your dairy, but now most of us just blend yogurt and water together until we have a light frothy lassi.

Put a spin on the classic lassi and turn it into a lassi float – the slight sourness of the lassi has to be a great balance for the ice cream – and they really work together a treat; complex but easy, and much more sophisticated than a soda float.

For an extra dimension, make it into a falooda, a colourful part-drink, part-dessert dish that you eat with a spoon. It is delicious and lighter than many puddings!

Classic sweet and salty mint lassi; serves 1

  • 180g (3⁄4 cup) plain yogurt
  • 120ml (1⁄2 cup) water
  • 2tsp sugar, or to taste
  • pinch of salt
  • 1⁄3–1⁄2 tsp roast and ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. shredded mint leaves, or dried mint
  • crushed or shaved ice, to serve

Blend together the yogurt, water, sugar, salt, cumin and half the mint. Stir in the remaining mint, taste and adjust the sugar and yogurt. Chill, before serving with crushed or shaved ice.

Lassi floats; serves 6

  • 480g (2 cups) chilled plain yogurt
  • 400ml (12⁄3 cup) water
  • 5tsp sugar, or to taste
  • crushed ice, to serve
  • 6 small scoops of ice cream

Blend together the yogurt, water and sugar until light and frothy. Adjust the sugar to taste; the amount you need depends on how sour the yogurt is. Pour into glasses furnished with some crushed ice. Add small scoops of your chosen ice cream. Leave for 5–10 minutes, then serve.

Falooda; serves 6

Soak 5tbsp of black chia seeds in enough milk to cover them for approximately 20 minutes, or until they plump up. Cook 80g (2¾oz) falooda sev noodles (Indian cornflour noodles available in most Indian food stores), or some thin rice noodles, according to the packet instructions. Mix these together with a little coloured syrup (either grenadine, violet or the more traditional rose syrup). Divide the noodles and syrup between glasses; there should be 1 teaspoon of the syrup per glass. Add the chia seeds on top, pour over your lassi, prepared as per the recipe above.

Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes from all over India check our “I love India” cookbook by Anjum Anand.

*Photo credit: Martin Poole

 

Sunflower Seeds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sunflower seeds – small, tasty and healthy; eaten as a snack or as a part of a proper meal this fruit of the sunflower has a lot to offer us but just like most things in life, even sunflower seeds have to be consumed in moderation as too much simply isn’t good for us…

Some countries are much bigger on sunflower seeds consumption than other. I’ve read that in Russia for example, you can simply ask a friend for a handful of sunflower seeds once you run out, just like you would bump the proverbial cup of sugar from your neighbour in the UK; they are just so common and everyone eats them. I personally love sunflower seeds, to the point that Mark thinks I should look like a parrot by now. Anyways last night whilst multitasking (re-watching season 4 of House MD and playing Jelly Saga bubbles on my phone at the same time), I heard the episode with the diagnosis – B6 toxicity as a direct result of excessive sunflower seed consumption… well, this caused me to stop nibbling and got me thinking, so here I am sharing with you the headlines from what I have been researching for the last few hours 🙂

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated oils; they are rich in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B, manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate and almost 70 other nutrients.

The main health benefits of eating sunflower seeds:

  • Weight control – due to their high levels of oil they will quickly take care of any hunger pangs, thus making a perfect snack.
  • Some anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits due to their high levels of vitamin E.
  • They help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Anti-depressant – high level of magnesium can help with low moods, as well as help calm muscles and ease blood vessels.
  • Antioxidant – the selenium in sunflower seeds can help with thyroid health and help to repair any damaged cells within our body.

All is good in the world of sunflower seeds that is until we eat too many of them… Well, one might ask how many it too many… apparently, a single 1oz serving per day is the magic number… eating more can lead to several undesirable effects and contribute to:

  • Weight gain! Yes, the same seed which promotes weight loss in moderate amounts when eaten uncontrollably (the habit of nibbling them is very addictive) will inevitably lead to way too many calories and fats and undesirable weight gain.
  • Excess salt, especially if you snack on the salted version of the seeds.
  • General mouth and dental problems due to cracking too many shells.
  • Stomach problems due to high levels of fiber from eating both shelled and unshelled seeds.
  • Vitamin or/and nutrients overdose. All those good nutrients which were highly beneficial in a small amount can lead to problems when over consumed, especially manganese, selenium or B6 (just as House said).

I still love sunflower seeds but I might stick to a serving of roasted seeds as an addition to my salad from now on and lay off snacking my way through a 100g pack of it every other day.

Do you like sunflower seeds?

Have you ever considered that something can be beneficial in a small amount yet can be harmful when over-consumed?

15 Delicious Rhubarb Recipes

Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble :-)Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble 🙂

Green Salad with Roasted Rhubarb, Goat Cheese & Tarragon Vinaigrette

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Orange Rhubarb Giant Financier

Rhubarb & Ginger Tartlets with Pistachios

Rhubarb and Hazelnut Cake

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Rhubarb Berry Jam

Rhubarb Cream Cheese Cake

Rhubarb Rose Dark Chocolate Parfaits

Rhubarb Shortbread Bars

Rhubarb Strawberry Chia Jam

Roasted Aubergine with Rhubarb Salsa

Roasted Chicken with Smashed Peas, Roasted Rhubarb and Aleppo Honey

Spring Rhubarb Frangipane Chevron Tart

Summer Rhubarb Chicken Salad

Do you like rhubarb?

What’s your favourite way of preparing it?

Rhubarb, that weird looking vegetable, commonly mistaken for being a fruit is packed with goodness, minerals and vitamins all of which can be greatly beneficial for our body. This is the first eatable plant that has grown in our garden (not counting the spring onions) so I was on the lookout for some new recipes to inspire me; I really had no idea rhubarb could be so versatile… it turns out there is so much more you can do with rhubarb than the “go to” recipe of rhubarb crumble.

Smoked Mackerel Breakfast Salad

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.For years our morning meal has contained a single item… a coffee. Well, we both aren’t morning eaters and the very idea of solid foods in the earlier hours of the day just isn’t very appealing to us, normally but things can change… Lately, we have swopped sitting in the office in front of the PC for more physical work like gardening or woodworking. This change has forced us to reevaluate our eating habits. We are now much more inclined to have a proper, high protein breakfast which will keep us going till lunch or maybe dinner time, depending on how busy we are. We have started to experiment with different food combos and this salad is just a perfect result from this experiment. Who would have thought that fish and a white cheese could go so well together? I know it might sound a bit off but don’t diss it before you try it. The smoky taste from the fish rounded out by the creamy white cheese, the mildest hint of mayo zinged to the heavens when a piece of spring onion is bit a truly wondrous combo.

Ingredients:

  • 500g smoked mackerel
  • 150g soft white cheese*
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise
  • Handful of chopped spring onions
  • Fresh cracked black pepper; to taste

*if you are in the UK you could check your local supermarkets’ Foods Of the World fridge section and see if they stock a Polish white cheese called twaróg  – it will work perfectly 🙂

Method:

Put a pan of water and 3 eggs on to boil, when done remove from the heat and allow to cool.

De-bone and flake the fish, then place it in a bowl. With a fork, mash it up a bit to reduce in size any large clumps of fish.

Add the white cheese and mash some more.

Once cooled and peeled, roughly chop the eggs and add to the bowl of fish and cheese. Sprinkle the spring onion over the top, add the mayonnaise and finally crack some black pepper and stir gently till everything is just combined.

Serve as a salad or even as a sandwich filling, it works perfectly both ways. And if you have any leftovers after breakfast time, pop it into the fridge and use as a dip for some crackers come evening time.

Enjoy!

Fast and easy to prepare, this salad will provide everything one might need for a good start of the day, including plenty of protein.