August 1, 2008
Another friend is getting married. We girls decided to send her off in style.
I booked a gorgeous Lebanese restaurant. Arabian Nights meets upmarket eaterie, this place promised superb food, glamorous environment and belly dancing in one weekday evening.
We slipped into high heels post work and wafted down the rose-scented, mosaic staircase. Took our low seats and went straight for the olives. Staring at the beautifully-laid table, there seemed only one place for the pips to go.
I emptied them into a little ceramic bowl filled with white and brown paper egging my friends on to follow suit. Chewing gum and tomato tips went in. Then the waiter arrived to inform us that we were using the salt and pepper bowl as an ashtray.
As I crawled home from overeating at the end of the evening, I wondered how I was going to balance the excesses of the night with a suitable Indian recipe.
I remembered mother’s Indian mixed bean salad recipe – a delicious, spiced summery treat. Toss it up, eat it with the fish fillets and recover from your embarrassing moments.
Turn the oven on to 200 degrees centigrade and dry roast the cumin for 30 seconds. As soon as you can smell them in the kitchen, remove and crush in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix this with the lemon juice, ajwain seeds and salt and leave to sit.
In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked beans. Then chop the cucumber, tomatoes and onion into little pieces and chuck them in.
Drain any excess water in the mixing bowl and stir in the dressing. Cover and leave to sit for a few minutes t let the masalas do their job before eating.