Even though the book I just finished, The Last Kashmiri Rose, by Barbara Cleverly, was set in India, there were no really inspiring food references. Apparently in the days of the British Raj, local cuisine was not properly appreciated. Those idiots wanted the stuff of good old England. Though the novel was authentic in that sense, I kept wondering what the servants were eating off stage, so to speak, being one who does appreciate the culinary gifts of India.
However, her book was a well plotted, puzzling mystery, filled with intriguing, finely developed characters, and set in a fascinating time and place. Quite an enjoyable read, and the first in her series with investigator Joe Sandilands. I believe she's written eleven more featuring Sandilands.
So when carambolas are dropping off trees on the subcontinent, this dish would likely show up. They have a pretty long season here in Hawaii, and though it has slowed down, they're still available on our tree, which drives me to come up with new uses for the juicy, aromatic fruit.
I made Carambola Mead again this year, we eat them out of hand, and occasionally add one to a salad, but this Indian curry accompaniment, a Raita is a new one for me. This dish is mostly raw, like a salad, or side dish for an Indian meal. Also, I was able to use my recently purchased nigella seeds, aka black cumin, kalonji or black onion seed.
6 ripe starfruit (carambola)
1/4 cup dry coconut (I used fresh grated and eliminated the hot water)
3 tablespoons hot water
1/2 fresh green chili or more to taste, minced
1 teas. salt
1 1/2 cups yoghurt or kefir (next time I will use a smaller amount)
1 teas. ghee or oil
1 teas. black mustard seeds
1/2 teas. nigella seeds (optional)
4 cardamom pods, opened and seeds removed and lightly crushed
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
Cut the ends off and trim ribs from the starfruit, slice about 1/8" thick and remove seeds. Moisten the coconut with hot water, then mix with starfruit, chilies, and salt into the yoghurt.
Heat oil or ghee in small pan and fry all the seeds until the mustard seeds pop, then stir into yoghurt mixture. Add the mint and serve cold. Was a very yummy side for a recently posted fish curry, which I made with ahi tuna this time. Will share with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking get together.