In many parts of the world, people look forward to summer because it’s the warmest time of the year. It’s that time of the year that is about school vacations and sitting out in the sun, having picnics on the beach, and the best time for ice-creams, slushes and long cool drinks.
Our summers are a little different. They’re just too hot to be fun so we tend to look for excuses to stay indoors. I live close to beach but you will not ever find me venturing out in that direction except later in the day when the temperatures become a bit more bearable. It is however the time for the best mangos ever and other fruit like watermelons, pineapples, papayas and lychees (we prefer to call them litchees in India) to mention a few. It’s also the time for chilled salads like this Cucumber, Papaya and Lychee Salad.
The lychee/ litchee season is short but we get the most beautiful reddish pink , sweetest and delicately aromatic fruit during the summer. If the only lychees you’ve eaten have come out of a can, then you haven’t ever come close to the flavour of the fresh fruit. Canned lychees seem to lose the rose-like fragrance of the fresh fruit. I find that even the taste of the canned fruit is disappointing so I try to make the most of the fresh fruit.
It so happens that I’m the only one at home who likes Lychees though my husband doesn’t mind it so long as he doesn’t have to eat the fruit as it is. Our daughter will not go beyond remarking from far how attractive it always looks!
Of course, a hot summer means that one is thirstier than hungry and the kitchen is also the last place one wants to spend time in. So lighter meals are the way to go and I find that a chilled salad that combines fruit and vegetables with a very light vinaigrette or just a dash of lime juice, salt and pepper is often more than enough.
The inspiration for this salad comes from a Roger Mooking recipe (Roger Mooking is a Canandian chef and perhaps better known in India for his Everyday Exotic food series on television). His recipe pairs cucumbers with lychees but I found that adding firm ripe papaya and pomegranate makes a rather dull salad a little more exciting both in terms of taste and colour.