From Soup With Pickle Salad To Fried Sesame Coated Bites: Ravinder Bhogal’s Cucumber Recipes | Summer food and drink

COoh, crunchy and refreshing, cucumbers are like a breeze in a bowl. And there is much more than green salad and sandwiches. They are the ideal foil for warm weather and spicy food, and pair particularly well with anything lactic acid, such as yogurt or buttermilk, or salty, such as soy sauce or vinegar. Long, English cucumbers are as wet as the weather in the country, making them ideal for elegant, cold summer soups, liqueurs and cocktails, while the short, crispy Persian variety retains its shape and texture, making it perfect for pickles, salads or just to chew with a pinch of sea salt.

Cucumber Buttermilk Soup With Pickled Cucumber Salad (pictured above)

This cooling soup is ideal for enjoying in the garden when the weather warms up; it’s also quite a delicious drink when served in a tumbler.

Preparation 10 minutes
Pickle 1 hour+
Cook 35 minutes
Serves 4

For the pickled cucumber salad
75 ml white wine vinegar
30 g caster sugar
1 red pepper
cut into thick slices
3 Persian cucumbers
tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp capers in brine

For the soup
25 g butter
1 small onion
peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground allspice
A pinch of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic
peeled and sliced
3 large cucumbershalved lengthwise, scooped out seeds and discarded, then finely chopped
300ml buttermilk
Sea salt and black pepper

Za’atarto serve – I like the one from Zaytoun

Make the salad first. Put the vinegar, sugar and 150 ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the chopped chili, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, peel and halve the cucumbers, remove the seeds and discard, cut the flesh into 5 mm cubes. Add to the cooled pickling liqueur, refrigerate to chill and brine lightly for at least an hour (that being said, the pickle can be made up to a day in advance).

To make the soup, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the onion until soft and translucent, but not colored. Add the cumin, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook for a minute or two until the spices release their scent. Sprinkle over the sliced ​​garlic and chopped cucumbers and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cucumbers are tender.

Remove and discard the bay leaf, then place the mixture in a food processor and grind until smooth. Chill in the fridge, then fold in the buttermilk, season and pass through a fine sieve. Place in the fridge again until needed.

Divide the soup among four bowls. Drain the pickled cucumber from the liqueur, discard the chili and place the cucumber in a medium bowl. Stir in the dill, parsley and capers, spoon a little salad over each serving, sprinkle with a pinch of za’atar and enjoy.

Fried sesame cucumbers with black vinegar and chili dip

Ravinder Bhogal's fried sesame cucumbers with black vinegar and chili dipping sauce.
Ravinder Bhogal’s fried sesame cucumbers with black vinegar and chili dipping sauce.

These fried cucumbers make for compulsive summer eating and can also be made with pickled cucumbers straight from a jar. If using pickles, rinse with water and dry well before flouring and frying. If you’re looking for convenience, swap the dipping sauce for a good quality chili oil, such as poon’s Extraordinary chili oil.

Preparation 10 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Serves 4-6 as a starter

16 skinny Persian or baby cucumberspeeled
300 g buttermilk
125 g flour
115g polenta
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
3 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and black pepper
Rapeseed oil
to fry

For the dipping sauce
60ml Chinkiang black rice vinegar (from Asian food stores; if you can’t find it, use red wine vinegar)
40 ml soy sauce
1 tbsp chili bean paste
½ tsp caster sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

To make the dipping sauce, simply put everything in a jar, seal and shake until well blended. Set aside until needed.

Soak the peeled cucumbers in the buttermilk for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine the flour, polenta, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper and garlic powder and season to taste.

Heat the oil to 180C/350F in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan (never fill a pan more than halfway with oil when deep-frying). If you don’t have a digital thermometer, check by adding a cube of bread: the oil is ready when it turns golden brown within 30 seconds. Have a plate of paper towels handy.

Dip the buttermilk-soaked cucumbers into the flour mixture, shake off the excess, and fry in small batches for three to five minutes (timing depends on the thickness of your cucumbers), until golden brown and very crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and repeat the process with the remaining cucumbers. Serve with the dipping sauce.