As a fifth grader in Kabul I had an allowance of one Afghani per day to buy a snack. Contrary to popular misconception, the Afghani doesn’t refer to a person, but to Afghanistan’s currency. One Afghani was worth about 10 cents at the time.
All my friends would use their allowance to buy special treats from the school canteen, but I would stop at the vegetable store on the way to school to purchase the largest cucumber I could afford. With school in session from March through November, the crunchy cucumbers with the small seeds had a cooling effect on me through the hot summer months -- I so looked forward to recess. In retrospect I must have been a strange child to pick a cucumber over candy, but I won’t go into self analysis in this posting.
Persian cucumbers remind me of the wonderful cucumbers I used to covet as a child. They are thin, small and reliably crunchy. Peeled and cut into slivers they can be a great snack, a fine addition to a veggie platter and a healthy part of a sack lunch. My kids love them.
Previously I could only find Persian cucumbers at Afghan or Persian grocery stores, but now Trader Joe’s and some larger grocery stores carry them. Here is a recipe for an Afghan appetizer I created and brought to a friend’s party. There are few appetizers in the Afghan cuisine. I serve this one with pita chips. It also makes a nice side dish.
Yogurt, Cucumber and Mint Dip
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Persian cucumbers, roughly chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. dried mind or 2 tsp. fresh mint
Pinch of dried, ground garlic
Mix all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir thoroughly. Serve with pita chips, sambosas or bolani.
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