A Baghdadi-Jewish Cucumber Zalata Recipe

A Baghdadi-Jewish Cucumber Zalata Recipe

A recipe for a simple pickle from the Baghdadi-Jewish community of Kolkata.

Bhagwaan ke Pakwaan, a cookbook-travelogue by Devang Singh and Varud Gupta, traces an intricate network of stories between food, community and religion. From remote Rongmesek’s Karbi tribe, to the Buddhist monks of Spiti, the Baghdadi Jews of Kolkata, and the Zoroastrians of Udvada, the book brings together incredible photographs with unique stories of how food and culture have influenced religious practice, and recipes that are unapologetically true to source. Buy the book here.

This recipe is from the Baghdadi Jewish pantry, where pickled items such as this quick-pickled cucumber were common. Simple, but delicious and refreshing, it is exactly the snack you need with hot summer days just around the corner.

Recipe: Cucumber Zalata
(Serves 2)

2-3 seedless cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
½ tbsp salt
1 tsp chopped green chillies
1 tbsp sugar
½ tbsp chopped ginger
½ tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped mint
¾ cup cider vinegar
½ cup water 

Salt the cucumber generously and let it stand for an hour or so, to release the water. After an hour, drain the excess water.
Combine the chillies, sugar, ginger, garlic and mint. Add the cucumber to this mix when ready.
Bring the vinegar to a boil and pour over the cucumber mixture. Add enough water to cover all the ingredients.
Allow to cool, and store tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week.