So about 10 years ago, when I was still in college I was perusing a local Barnes and Noble or Borders when I found this book of recipes called Sunny Season Flavours. I know they say never to judge a book by its cover, but I was drawn by the colours and its’ minimalist yet beautiful looking dishes – mostly Italian recipes. My first few experiments in the kitchen were inspired by this book, but I had forgotten about it till a few days ago. I used to look through the book and all the pictures of these amazing looking, colorful dishes and would fantasize about cooking (and eating) all of them. A few days ago, I suddenly remembered about the book and figured SA and I could put it to good use together.
Well, as you can see the name of the post is “Recipes to beat the heat” and by george! With Pohela Boishakh (the first day of the Bengali New Year & the beginning of summer) around the corner, it’s been as hot as a witch’s cauldron recently. Anyways, we were also rather dehydrated from being out late the night before celebrating our friend’s wedding (congrats again S & T!!) so we decided to cook up something that would replenish us and taste fresh and light and would be simple to prepare.
The first dish which we found to our liking in the book was a delightfully light Chilled Cucumber Soup with Prawns. Made with cucumbers and yoghurt, this refreshing soup is the perfect starter for an intimate dinner party during these hot summer days. Take 5 cucumbers and except for one, seed ’em. Leave the 5th cucumber to be used later on in the recipe. Once you’ve scooped out the seeds so they look like boats, chop them up a bit as we’ll toss ’em in the food processor along with our other ingredients.
You guys will soon come to know of my love for herbs, they make everything (yes, really – everything!) better. So chop up some good old mint and some parsley and chives and toss them along in the food processor with the cucumbers and some yoghurt (doi), thickened cream, chicken broth, tabasco and salt and pepper. Now blend all of them until it turns into this light minty green colour and chill in the fridge for about a few hours. We only managed to chill it for an hour, but I think it would have been better had it chilled the entire day.
Right before you are ready to serve, prepare the prawns because it will only take you five minutes. Heat up olive oil in a pan and meanwhile cut about two cloves of garlic. Once the oil is nice and hot, toss in the garlic, some dried red chili, parsley and the de-shelled prawns with the tails on (we had the tails off, but you probably want to keep them on). After about 5 minutes, they should be ready. Take your soup out of the fridge and ladle it onto bowls.
Now remember that lone cucumber that we didn’t use at the beginning of the recipe? It’s the lone cucumber’s turn now to be in the spotlight. We used a spiralizer to get long strips of the cucumber (so it resembled spaghetti), but you can use your favorite knife to cut the cucumber into long, spaghetti-like strips. Then we arranged the spiralized cucumber in the middle and put the prawns on top of them. Season with some fresh cracked pepper and your soup is ready to be served!
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the soup
10 oz yoghurt (doi)
1/3 cup thickened cream
1 1/4 chicken broth
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce
2 tbs chopped mint
2 tbs chopped chives
2 tbs chopped dill
For the garlic shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
14 oz uncooked shrimp (tails intact)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 dried red chiles
1/4 cup chopped parsley