As a fifth grader in Kabul I had an allowance of one Afghani per day to buy a snack. Contrary to popular misconception, the Afghani doesn’t refer to a person, but to Afghanistan’s currency, and was worth about 10 cents at the time.
All my friends would use their allowance to buy special treats from the school canteen, but I would stop at the vegetable store on the way to school to purchase the largest cucumber I could afford. With school in session from March through November, the crunchy cucumbers with the small seeds had a cooling effect on me through the hot summer months -- I so looked forward to recess. In retrospect I must have been a strange child to pick a cucumber over candy, but I won’t go into self analysis in this posting.
Persian cucumbers remind me of the wonderful cucumber I used to covet as a child. They are thin, small and reliably crunchy. Peeled and cut into slivers they can be a great snack, a fun addition to a veggie platter and a healthy addition to the kids’ lunch bags. My kids love them.
Previously I could only find Persian cucumbers at Afghan or Persian grocery stores, but now Trader Joe’s and some larger grocery stores carry them. Here is a recipe for an Afghan appetizer I created and brought to a friend’s party. There are few appetizers in the Afghan cuisine, so I served this recipe with pita chips.
Yogurt, Cucumber and Mint Dip
1 cup of plain yogurt (any type will work)
2 Persian cucumbers roughly chopped which makes around ½ cup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried mind or 2 tsp fresh mint
Pinch of ground, dry ground garlic
Recipe can be doubled.
In a bowl mix all ingredients and stir thoroughly. You may adjust the salt and garlic to your taste. Serve with pita chips, sambosas, Bolani, or kebabs. I also love to serve it as a salad or side dish.
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