Spicy Cucumber Salad

When it comes to Indian food, moderation isn’t my forte.  I don’t mean overindulging while eating, but I’m not very good at making just one dish.

Once the spices are out of the cupboard, I usually do a quick inventory of the fridge and pantry and, before I know it, I’ve made a whole Indian feast, with at least 5 or more dishes, enough to provide lunches and dinners for the rest of the week.

It’s a good thing I love leftovers.

One of my tried and true favorites is this spicy cucumber salad.

Finely diced cucumber combines with Serrano chile pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and ground cashews.  A mustard tadka brings it home, giving the salad an unmistakable Indian flavor and some definite wow factor.

After making this a half dozen times or so, I decided to start sprinkling some of the cayenne on top of the salad as a heat warning.  Otherwise people generally assumed it was a mild dish, as the finely chopped Serrano chile pepper gets sort of lost in the sea of green cucumber.

Instead of providing my guests with the anticipated relief from spicy curries, it usually just added to the fire.  Oops.  My bad.  If you’re less tolerant of spicy food than I am, you’ll want to reduce the cayenne or seed the Serrano chile pepper.


Spicy Cucumber Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 20 minutes


* 2 large unwaxed cucumbers, cut into an approximate 1/4-inch dice
* 1 Serrano chile pepper, minced (seeded if you'd like to cut the heat a bit)
* 1/2 cup toasted, unsalted cashews (toasted peanuts also work, as do raw cashews or peanuts)
* 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon stevia (or roughly double the amount of sugar)
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
* 1 Tablespoon oil
* 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds


In a large bowl combine the cucumbers and chile pepper. Using a clean coffee grinder or a mini food processor, process the cashews until the mixture is partially a coarse powder and partially small chunks of cashews. Add the cashew mixture to the cucumbers. Add the lemon juice, salt, stevia or sugar, and half of the cayenne pepper and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the salt and sweetener, if necessary.

In a small saucepan or skillet heat the oil until it begins to smoke. Quickly add the mustard seeds and immediately cover with a lid or splatter screen (unless you want a kitchen full of mustard seeds or mustard seeds flying into your eyes, you really need to use a covering of some sort). After the seeds stop popping, immediately remove from heat and pour the oil and mustard seeds over the cucumber mixture. Toss to coat and sprinkle with the remaining cayenne pepper.

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One Response to “Spicy Cucumber Salad”

  1. #
    Eileen — September 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    This salad looks amazing–fresh and crispy and spicy all at once. I think the cayenne warning signal is a great idea–I'd certainly be fooled otherwise! :)


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