Cucumbers are available throughout the year but are at their best during the summer months. They grow on creepers and are closely related to the squash family and melons.
Nutritionally, they contain large amounts of water, which explains why they are best eaten during summer months. They are great sources of vitamin C and molybdenum, a mineral also found in chickpeas and which, as I've mentionedbefore, plays an important role in the body's metabolism. Other important elements in cucumbers are vitamin A, potassium, folate, magnesium, manganese and dietary fiber.
Normally this vegetable is consumed raw. However, just for some variation, it is sometimes cooked as in dosas or in soups.
This is how I make cucumber dosa:
I soak overnight (or a minimum of two hours) about one cup of dosa rice along with half a cup of parboiled rice. The next morning, I wash and peel two medium-sized cucumbers. Cucumber skins are sometimes waxed to prevent damage to the vegetable and if it isn't organically grown it would be advisable to discard the peel whenever possible to avoid unidentified chemicals in your food.
I place in the blender the following:
one whole and one half cucumber (save one half to grate and add to finished batter)
the soaked rice
half a cup of rolled oats
two spoons of grated coconut
a teaspoon of oat bran
a teaspoon of sprouted methi seeds
four to five washed spinach leaves
I used to use only rice for the dosa but I've been forced to gradually reduce the amount of rice in our diets, in order to make it more diabetic friendly. Therefore I've used rolled oats as an additional ingredient, replacing part of the rice. However, this can be eliminated if you so choose.
It is important to drain the soaked rice completely before placing it in the blender. This is because cucumbers contain plenty of water and additional water might ruin the consistency of the batter. If required, water can be added at a later stage.
I usually add the spinach leaves. Not only do they enhance the nutritional profile of the dosas but they also lend a beautiful vibrant green color to the pancakes which makes the dosas at least visually appealing. There is something refreshing about eating a vividly green dosa early in the morning.
All the above ingredients are blended to give a smooth batter. I pour this into a pot. I then grate the cucumber half I had set aside and also finely chop one inch of ginger, two green chillies and a handful of washed coriander leaves and mix this into the batter thoroughly.No resting period is necessary; the dosas may be made immediately.
For softness, half a teaspoon of fruit salt might be added but this is an additional source of sodium which I prefer to avoid if possible. Adding rolled oats gives the dosas a natural sponginess, so this is a better and healthier alternative.
I heat my iron griddle and grease it lightly with a drop of oil. I pour a ladleful of the batter in the center and roll it out with the back of the ladle in concentric circles without lifting the spoon from the center outwards, spreading the batter as evenly and thinly as possible. I cover this with a lid and let it cook for about half a minute or so. I then remove the lid and peel the dosa off the pan with my iron spatula.
This can be eaten with pickles, chutneys and/or sambars of choice.It is equally tasty with just plain curds.
While on the subject of rice,another favorite rice dish of mine is the pomegranate rice which I've posted before. Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and are a must in the diet. This is a rather different way to use the fruit. Clickherefor the full recipe.
Both these recipes go to theRice Mela Eventhosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 All Seasons. Thanks Srivalli, for giving us the opportunity to celebrate this very special grain in our diet!