If you’re tired of your usual cucumber salad, add some variety by trying this cucumber-yogurt concoction that’s as refreshing as it is healthy. And it’s versatile: Chop the cucumbers into chunks, and you’ve got salad. Dice them finely, and you’ve got a great relish or dip to grace your table.

Cucumber salad

Just a few ingredients make a cooling cucumber salad that’s amazingly versatile. Serve it with everything – from burgers to chili to Indian takeout.

Photo Credit: Veronica Lorson Fowler

Cucumbers

Got cucumbers? Put them to good use in this versatile dip/relish/salad!

Photo Credit: Timur70

Think cucumbers and yogurt make a strange combination? While it may be something new to your plate, the mixture is a time-honored tradition in Mediterranean cultures and throughout the near East. There, plain, unsweetened yogurt with live, active cultures is often consumed daily. It’s often added to salads (as with this dish), or served alongside rich or highly flavored staples like stuffed cabbage, grilled lamb, shish kebabs and fried eggplant or zucchini. Its light, refreshing quality complements spicy or rich foods perfectly.

This recipe is a twist on a classic Indian dish – a relish combo of cucumber, mint, yogurt, cumin and hot pepper. It’s served in small bowls alongside dishes like the type just described.

My Americanized version has more cucumber, less yogurt. It’s a great summer side salad for almost anything you can think of – burgers, steaks, grilled or baked chicken, or anything barbequed. When my cucumber vines are producing and the mint is doing its usual rampage through my garden, I love to keep a bowlful in the fridge for a side salad with a sandwich at lunchtime or with whatever leftovers are hanging around. With its cool, soothing taste, it’s great as a side to chili, too.

I also like to whip up a batch if I’m doing Indian takeout, which tends to be pretty high in fat. I can fill up guiltlessly on this delicious salad, so that I eat less of the greasy stuff. How cool is that?

And when it’s party time – whether outdoor barbeque or holiday fling – the dip version is great on a platter surrounded by pita bread, pita chips or Indian flatbread wedges. It’s also delicious with raw veggies.

Here’s how to make it:

Indian Cucumber Salad/Relish/Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (with live, active cultures)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne

Peel the cucumber as desired. Scoop out seeds. Cut into ½-inch chunks for salad or chop coarsely for relish or dip.

Combine all ingredients. Serve immediately, or chill and eat within the next day or so.

Options

  • Do a Northern European version of this dish by leaving out the cumin, cayenne and mint. Instead, add fresh dill and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. This is excellent with fish – especially grilled salmon. It’s also wonderful alongside grilled sausages.
  • Do a French version by leaving out the spices and mint and add some freshly chopped tarragon.

No matter how you slice it, this is one cool cucumber concoction you’re sure to enjoy any time of the year!