By Humaira & Katie
In Afghanistan most vegetables are cooked in their own juices or some kind of a broth for a long time. Crunchy vegetables are a rarity. Maybe that’s why Jeja, Humaira’s mom, prefers meals at her own home where she won’t be subjected to al dente green beans and lightly steamed broccoli. However, Afghans do eat salad and for that, they use fresh, seasonal ingredients.
When Humaira was in Afghanistan in 2006, in order to avoid the typical travelers’ illnesses, she had to lay off the raw vegetables. Passing up the beautiful Afghan salata (salad) felt like a hardship. For those in Afghanistan who can afford fresh vegetables, salata is a staple of the Afghan table.
The recipe below is a salad we made for an Afghan dinner (click here for full Menu) several weeks ago. We used the last of the Indian summer tomatoes. If you can’t get your hands on any decent tomatoes, hang onto the recipe until you can. Alternatively, substitute any seasonal vegetables in any combination that are tasty when raw: chopped crisp romaine, fennel, diced carrots, and the like.
Salata is always light and crunchy, making it a perfect counterpoint to Afghan cuisine’s heavier dishes. Some Afghan cooks consider it a point of pride when the diced vegetables are small and uniform in size. The result reminds us a little of a colorful bowl of confetti.
I recently heard from Helen Nichols who writes the Well Being Secrets blog that she added steamed broccoli to this recipe. I love Helen's article about the 42 benefits of broccoli and thought I should share her post with you.
Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad
3 medium-size tomatoes, diced
3 Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)*
1 small red onion, diced
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro (1 small bunch)
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients and toss well.
*you can substitute ordinary cucumbers
Serves 4 to 6
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