Cookin’ for Love Malaysian Latkes with Minty Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Submitted by Judy on Thu, 11/29/2007 - 4:34pm.

From Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family (Workman) by Judy Bart Kancigor
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I don’t often adapt recipes from novels, but Sharon Boorstin’s fun romp Cookin’ for Love sent me straight to the kitchen. Heroine Miriam’s thoughts seldom stray from food, and when she awakens from a dream about Grandma’s latkes to find her Malaysian cleaver-toting captor frying curried onions, it’s an “aha” moment of the kitchen kind. Cashews! Ginger! This is a latke with pizzazz! Makes 16 latkes

1/2 cup chopped unsalted cashews or peanuts
1/4 cup chopped mint or flat-leaf parsley, or a combination
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper, seeded and deveined
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 large eggs, beaten
2 large baking potatoes (12 ounces each), cut into wedges
1 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Minty Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)

1. Combine the cashews, mint, bell pepper, jalapeño, ginger, salt, curry powder, and eggs in a large bowl, and mix well. Set it aside.

2. Shred the potatoes and onion together in a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. Squeeze the potato/onion mixture between several changes of paper towels to release as much liquid as possible. Add the potato/onion mixture to the egg mixture, and combine well. Stir in the flour.

3. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet to cover the bottom, and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is quite hot but not smoking, add a scant 1/4 cup batter per latke and flatten them with a fork. Fry only as many latkes as will fit in the skillet without crowding. Cook on one side until crisp and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn over and cook until the other side is crisp and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the latkes to paper towels to drain. Keep the latkes warm while frying the remainder. Serve immediately, with the Minty Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.

Note: To taste the potato mixture, or any mixture containing raw eggs, microwave a tablespoon or so until cooked, 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the size and strength of your microwave; then taste.

Minty Cucumber Yogurt Yogurt Sauce

1 English (hothouse) cucumber
Kosher (coarse) salt
2 cups plain yogurt
1 to 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons crushed dried mint leaves
1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

1. Grate the cucumber coarsely into a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt, and allow to stand for 15 to 20 minutes. Then rinse off the salt and let drain.

2. Combine the yogurt, garlic, olive oil, dried mint leaves, cumin seeds, and salt to taste in a bowl, and whisk until smooth and creamy.

3. Pat the cucumbers dry, and combine them with the yogurt sauce. Taste and adjust the salt. Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.