Spicy Starfruit (Carambola) Raita

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.

Carambola Raita

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.


Beth F said...

Crazy colonists ... missing all that great local food. The mystery series sounds like something I'd enjoy.

I love star fruit but I've never used it in a savory dish. But why not? I'm definitely going to have to investigate.

Katherine P said...

The book sounds interesting and the Raita sounds amazing! I've only had Ratia with cucumbers and they're delicious. I've always enjoyed seeing glimpses of what they eat below stairs so I think I'd be very curious with this book as well.

olduvaireads said...

Oh I love starfruit! I come from Singapore where it's really common and so it's relatively cheap compared to where I live now (California). But I've only ever eaten it on its own or as a juice (really good for sore throats!), so I'm really intrigued by the idea of a starfruit raita. Now if only I could find a nice starfruit here...

Carole said...

Fresh star fruit -- oh my! Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

jama said...

I remember seeing starfruit when I lived in Hawaii, but don't remember eating it. Strange. What an interesting recipe -- would not have thought to cook it. The raita sounds yummy.

Claudia said...

Jama, this is totally raw, and fresh. Raitas are sort of like a salad.

Tina said...

All of these goods are so exotic to me, looks lovely and tasty .

Vicki said...

I'd love to try it. It sounds really good.

Mae Travels said...

I've seen star fruit in the Kona Farmers' Market, but I don't live there and usually I'm not cooking that much in the condos we rent on vacation. So this is very intriguing.

If you are really interested in the history of English food in India, I can recommend a book titled "The Raj at Table: A Culinary History of the British in India" by David Burton. Much better source than fiction!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Laurie C said...

I've never eaten starfruit! I love Indian-inspired dishes, though, so this sounds good! I read the first mystery in the Joe Sandilands series, but never went on to the others...