2 medium cucumbers, preferably English, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 medium green serrano chiles, seeded
1 tabelspoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Using a mandoline or the slicer side of a box grater, thinly slice the cucumbers and carrots into very thin rounds. Using a knife, cut the chile into thin rounds as well.
In a serving bowl, mix together the cucumbers, carrots, chile, cilantro, lemon juice, salt to taste, and sugar. Use your fingers; this distributes the dressing evenly, otherwise the slices of cucumber tend to stick together in a clump. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before serving.
This is a very distinctive dish because the curry leaves and black pepper go together so well. I created the recipe one time when I had nothing but frozen shrimp in the freezer and was really craving the heat of black peppercorns. It’s been a party staple in my home ever since, served as a first course with Pickled Cucumber and Carrot Salad.
6 tablespoons canola oil
20 fresh curry leaves
1 pound large tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coarse black pepper, or even more if you like pepper as much as I do!
Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Toss in the curry leaves and back away from the stove—they’ll sputter wildly and turn crisp. Add the shrimp and toss. Add the black pepper and salt and continue tossing over high heat until the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp.
• Get organized by keeping a well-stocked Quick-Fix Indian pantry. Then you’ll always be prepared to make a delicious dish, even when time is short.
• Keep your Shortcut Shelf full and fresh with recurring items like ghee and masala pastes.
• Have a good electric coffee grinder on hand strictly for grinding spices.
• Read the entire recipe before you begin, to avoid unexpected surprises along the way.
• Feel your way through the cooking process, instead of constantly watching the clock. “Cook it until it’s done,” Ruta says.
• Buy small amounts of spices to ensure freshness and, whenever possible, grind whole spices to order.
• Use partially prepared proteins, such as already peeled shrimp, to cut preparation time.
After her two daughters were born, Ruta Kahate became a quick-fix cook, and fast. An accomplished chef, author, and culinary travel guide, she spent the first half of her life exploring the Indian subcontinent, learning the variety of regional food. Putting her extensive knowledge into action, she ran her own cooking school and worked as a food consultant, all the while placing her own modern touch on this ancient cuisine. Ruta currently divides her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Goa, India.
“My intention was to demystify Indian food; to demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, this exotic cuisine could in fact be simple to cook at home … I discovered smart shortcuts, convenient techniques, and quick-cooking ingredients that didn’t compromise on taste or nutrition.” —author Ruta Kahate
Quick-Fix Indian: Easy, Exotic Dishes in 30 Minutes or Less (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $16.99, May 2012) spices up your kitchen with a modern twist on traditional Indian cuisine, while breaking the myth that delicious, exotic food takes the entire evening to accomplish. Chef and author Ruta Kahate shows us how effortless it is to make mouthwatering Indian dishes—from pantry to stove to table—in under 30 minutes.
With more than 100 recipes, Ruta’s compact Indian pantry, and instructions for preparing and storing essential basics like masala pastes, ghee and paneer, Quick-Fix Indian gives cooks of all skill levels the tools to create flavorful meals that even the pickiest eater can’t resist. In addition to learning the natural benefits of traditional spices, such as turmeric’s ability to increase brain function, find out how to whip up satisfying recipes including Green Pan-roasted Chicken, Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate, Kids’ Favorite Banana Fritters, and Hot and Sweet Apple Chutney.
Follow Ruta’s simple tips on being prepared and soon you’ll be fixing delicious curry and much more in a hurry. Don’t overthink things; just enjoy the cooking and watch the food disappear. As Ruta says, “If it tastes good, it will be eaten. It’s as simple as that.”