It was a sunny evening a few days ago when I was wandering about the backyard that had come alive with colorful flowers. The rhubarb plants seemed to have sprung out of nowhere and the asparagus sprouts had become a bush! The wisteria blossoms hung gracefully from the roof of the garage. Our dining room looks out to the backyard and seeing this lush garden come alive always brings a smile to my face.
In my last post, I shared a recipe for almond breadcrumb fritters dipped in cardamom and vanilla honey syrup. It was divine. It was my sweet tribute to my mom and all moms. And thinking about my mom and food always reminds me of what she would make for my brother and I when we were kids. Sometimes I wonder if those memories glorify the food we ate as kids more so than they deserve. I don’t think so but they do say that memories are always rosier than reality.Every once in a while though, it feels great to relive the memories and cook something from your childhood. A couple of days ago, I did just this.
One of the traditions that Indians picked up from the British is that of afternoon tea. When we came back home from school, my mom would make us chai or bournvita with cookies (or biscuits as cookies are known in India). Every once in a while, she would have cucumber sandwiches as well. We always loved it when these simple treats showed up in our lunch boxes. They were also perfect for picnics, easy to make and carry and minimum mess to clean up. And I think I’m going to make these sandwiches again for brunch this weekend.
With my new found allergies, could I recreate this sandwich treat? And if I could, would they stand up to my childhood memories? I was excited to find that Udi’s makes gluten free, dairy free, and soy free breads. And I was pretty sure that I could make the green mint sauce and tomato ketchup that are essential in the cucumber sandwich.
The sauces were really easy to make. The bread was not too bad. You can’t compare it to wheat bread and you shouldn’t. I did find though that toasting the gluten free bread made it taste and hold up better. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to be able to eat gluten, go with your favorite bread. I will say, however, that these tea sandwiches are usually made with white bread, with the crust cut out.
Here’s the recipe and let’s hope this spell of wonderful weather in Seattle continues for a few months
White bread (how many ever slices you need – 2 slices will make 2 sandwiches)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
For the spicy mint chutney
- 3/4 cup of mint leaves (I harvested these from the mint plants that were all over the backyard!)
- 1-2 thai green chili, optional
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to your taste)
- juice of 1/2 a lime (feel free to substitute a lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarsely ground cumin (I used a mortar and pestle)
- 3-5 pitted dates (more if you added 1 or more chilis)
For the fresh homemade tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilli or powder
- 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 teaspoons honey
Blend the mint chutney ingredients with the minimum amount of water needed, about 1/2 a cup. Taste and add more salt or lime juice as desired. If the chutney is too runny, add more mint leaves and blend.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Sizzle the cumin seeds and crushed red chili. Add the tomatoes, salt and honey and stir. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool and blend. Taste and adjust the salt and honey as desired.
Toast the bread if you like. Spread the mint chutney on one side and the tomato chutney on another. Add a single layer of sliced cucumber pieces. I add 4. Cut out the crust if you like. Slice diagonally or in other fun shapes. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of sparkling wine. This is also a great family friendly recipe since you can simply switch out with regular bread for those who can eat it. Also, you can get kids to help assemble the sandwiches!
And were the sandwiches as good as my mom’s? I realized that it almost didn’t matter. What did was the reliving of them. The sauces were yummy and I used them as a dip the next day for corn chips. The bread was really not too bad, especially toasted, but for me didn’t quite replace the taste of wheat bread. I’m pretty sure though that I will make these again.