THE GUARDIAN – It’s possible that I could count on my fingers and toes how many Brits have cooked a cucumber before. But while we think of it as a British vegetable, the cucumber actually originates in India, where (and in nearby Sri Lanka) it is popularly found cooked, and in a curry in which it retains both its shape and refreshing properties.
The recipe is unlike what you might classically think of as a curry: there is no fire or loud flavours here; this is a gentle, uncomplicated and soothing dish, much like a walk in the gardens of Samarikanda, a tea plantation near Galle, where I first ate it.
SRI LANKAN CUCUMBER AND CASHEW CURRY
Prep 20 min,
Cook 30 min
Serves two, or four as part of a larger spread
Two tbsp rapeseed oil
10 fresh curry leaves
One brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
Two garlic cloves, peeled, and finely sliced
One stick lemongrass, bashed and bruised
One green finger chilli, very finely chopped
One stick cinnamon
Two cucumbers, cut in half lengthways, seeds removed with a teaspoon and the rest cut into 1.5cm-wide half-moons (500g prepared weight)
100g cashew nuts, roasted and unsalted
Half tsp ground turmeric
One tsp fine sea salt
400ml coconut milk
Half to one tablespoon lime juice (to taste), plus wedges of lime, to serve
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and, once hot, add the curry leaves and leave them to crackle and pop for a minute.
Add the onion, turn down the heat to low and sweat the onion for 10 minutes, until soft, then stir in the garlic, lemongrass, chilli and cinnamon, and cook for another five minutes, to soften.
Now add the cucumber, cashews, turmeric and salt, stir-fry for two minutes, then add the coconut milk and stir.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the cucumber is tender (but not soft) and its flesh slightly translucent – this should take about eight or so minutes; add more water, if need be, to thin out the sauce.
Take off the heat, add lime juice to taste and serve in a shallow serving bowl with freshly steamed or boiled rice and lime wedges for squeezing over at the table.