We have 6 or 7 varieties of cucumbers going right now. We usually do some type of pickling. I really like Persian and varieties of the Levant, what we now call the Middle East. They’re so wonderful and very underrated. We mostly grow varieties from Adaptive Seeds that end up in raita, which is a cucumber yogurt salad. It’s often a kind of condiment you eat on the side, it’s cooling and fresh: there’s a million different kinds…sometimes there’s onions, different herbs, it’s a flexible and easy thing to do when you’re trying to figure out what to do with all those cucumbers. We do a simple raita: cucumbers, quick pickle thinly sliced red onions that we grow, cumin, salt, a little sugar, a little bit of lemon juice (not too much or the yogurt will curdle), herbs and with any of these spices we quickly toast them and make a masala, a spice mix, it all goes in and comes together in 3 ½ minutes.
Scott’s Recipe for Raita
1 cup full-fat yogurt (not Greek)
1 or 2 small Persian or English cucumbers
½ thinly sliced red onion
½ tsp kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
¼ tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbls chopped or ripped cilantro leaves
1 tbls chopped or ripped mint leaves (basil also works well)
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp cayenne powder
1 pinch asafoetida (optional, available from Indian grocery stores)
- Peel (if the skin is bitter, or if you’d like) and dice, but no need to be super careful about it; in a bowl, season with a pinch of salt and let sit
- Quick pickle the onions in a vinegar of your choice, or soak in cold water for 15 minutes to take out the bite
- In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, salt, sugar, spices, and most of the herbs, reserving some for garnish
- Add the lemon juice and incorporate, season to taste
- Drain the cucumbers and onions, and incorporate into yogurt mixture, you can add a little water if it’s still too thick
- Season to taste, garnish with reserved herbs, and enjoy!
This tastes great fresh, or gets better overnight in the fridge. Serve with your favorite Indian dish, Basmati rice, and homemade chapati!