This colourful and refreshing summer salad is very popular in Israel, where it is often eaten for breakfast, but it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. This salad lends itself to endless variety: add olives, diced potatoes or beetroot, omit the chilli, vary the herbs or use lime or lemon in place of the vinegar. You can try to use sumac and cinnamon to heighten the flavours. It is interesting that what is known in New York delis as “Israeli salad” is actually “Palestinian rural salad”. Popularized in Israel by the kibbutzim, variations on the basic recipe have been made by the different Jewish communities to immigrate to the country. For example, Jews from India prepare it with the addition of finely chopped ginger and green chili peppers, North African Jews may add preserved lemon peel and cayenne pepper, and Bukharan Jews chop the vegetables extremely finely and use vinegar, without oil, in the dressing. Serve it with nice slice of garlic bread or toast, or as the salad accompanied by chicken or any other meat.
Goji berry is a member of the wolfberry family and is known by the scientific name of Lycium barbarum. It’s credited with increasing the life span and having several health improving properties. It is one of the richest natural nutrients available on earth. It is said that the Chinese have been using Goji berry, as a food and a medicine, for more than five thousand years.
Goji berry grows in protected valleys with vines reaching up to heights of 4 m. The plant grows in sandy or clay soil conditions under semi shade or no shade. The fruits are never plucked by hand since they are very sensitive and can be spoilt if they are touched by hand at this stage. Instead the fruits are shaken on to a mat and then dried in the shade.
Spicy fried okra is delicious Indian dish that might be served with rise or naan bread. Okra is a vegetable whose texture varies dramatically depending on how it’s cooked. If you like it gooey and glutinous, add it to an African-style stew; if you prefer it in whole chunks, try it in a classic American gumbo. Okra is also known as ladies’ fingers because of its shape, and is widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and southern US cookery. It’s not as popular in the UK as it is in the US, but is usually available in supermarkets and grocers. Choose stems that snap cleanly and don’t bend. Ghee is a type of clarified butter that originated in India. It’s made in a similar way to clarified butter, but using a different kind of cream, and it’s cooked more slowly. Ghee is simmered until all the moisture evaporates and the milk solids begin to brown, giving the resulting butter a nutty, caramel-like flavour and aroma.
Sweet and sour cucumber with fresh dill is half pickle, half salad, and totally delicious served as a brunch or appetizer. Serve with the thin slices of pumpernickel or other coarse, dark, full-flavoured bread. Cucumbers are in season from May to October, but are available year-round. Look for firm, vibrantly green fruit without wrinkles. Smaller ridged cucumbers differ little in taste to the more common smooth variety. You can sliced cucumbers and onions thicker so you will get the crispiness, or nice and thinly so flavours will mix better and quicker. Dill has a strong, distinctive taste that is like a combination of fennel, anise and celery, with warm, slightly bitter undertones. Use only the leaves of dill, and discard the thick stems. This herb is popular in Scandinavian and Eastern European cookery, and is added to soups, grilled and boiled fish, gravlax, potatoes and vinegars.
White chocolate snowballs are lovely, little spherical cakes particularly popular in Winter time, but why not in the Summer, too? they are very simple to make, yet utterly delicious and bursting with creamy, buttery flavours. White chocolate is technically not real chocolate as it doesn’t contain any cocoa solids, but it is made primarily of cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate must contain at least 14% milk solids, including 3.5% milk fat. It retains a popularity all of its own as a vanilla-scented indulgence or as a decorative contrast to dark chocolates.