Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ethiopian Cucumber-Mango Salad

In my last post you may recall that I had a little soapbox moment about lumping all African countries together instead of recognizing them as very distinct countries and cultures.

Well, apparently I have now accidentally lumped two African countries and cuisines into a single menu, despite my best intentions. As it turns out, the ambiguous "East African" salad that wouldn't commit to a specific country but inspired me to cook up some Malagasy food, is actually Ethiopian. While typing up the recipe, I did a quick search to see if Cooking Light had an online version of the Cucumber-Mango Salad recipe. They do. And the online version very clearly identifies it as Ethiopian. So there you go.

Ethiopia and Madagascar, I acknowledge your distinctness, honor you as two different countries, and appreciate your foods.

Ethiopia's Cucumber-Mango Salad was a win. The longer ingredient list made for all sorts of flavors and textures pinging around in my mouth. The cinnamon, cumin, and clove hint at Indian curry flavors, while the tomato, mango, and cilantro are reminiscent of Latin salsa. The cucumber and red onion add crunch, and the lime juice wakes everything up and ties it all together. Mine turned out a little mushier than the cookbook photo suggested, but the taste was stellar. If you're mush-averse, I'd suggest using firm tomatoes or leaving them raw.

Ethiopian Cucumber-Mango Salad
From Cooking Light's Global Kitchen cookbook
Yield: 6 servings

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1-1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. salt

A drizzle of peanut oil (I used canola)
1 lb. tomato, chopped and seeded (ideally drained, too)
3 Tbsp. chopped peanuts (dry-roasted, preferably unsalted)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped*
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves

1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 mangoes, peeled and diced (about 1-3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced

Toss the cucumber and red onion with the salt, and set in a colander to drain for at least 20 minutes.**

Heat a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, followed by the tomatoespeanutsjalapenoscoriandercumincayennecinnamon, and cloves. Saute for just a few minutes, until the tomato is tender and warmed through (about 5 minutes tops). Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium to large bowl gently toss together the cucumber mixture, tomato mixture, garlicmangocilantro, and lime juice.

*If you can find red jalapenos, then do one red and one green. I used just one jalapeno, and the salad was very mild. Could have easily tossed in another and been totally fine.
**The recipe said to include the garlic at this stage, but I was afraid it would just fall through the holes in my colander. So I set it aside in a separate tiny dish with a sprinkle of salt.