Cucumber Boortha

A small bowl of green cucumbers, red tomatoes, and a yellow pepper

Pardon the picture of unrelated produce, but it’s just such a cheery shot of some of the garden vegetables from this summer, and there are cucumbers in the picture.  😉

This recipe is a little unusual.  It was dug up in response to a large quantity of cucumbers that needed to be eaten; really, you can only eat so much of Grandma’s cucumber salad before the vinegar starts to get to you!  (And sometimes you need a change from the one with yogurt, too.)

Anyway, the recipe is from a 1954 cookbook whose title page reads: “The Complete Round-the-World Cookbook, Recipes gathered by Pan American World Airways from the 84 countries they serve, with food and travel comments by Myra Waldo.”  (The book itself is long out of print, but used copies are floating around online.)

So, I can’t vouch for the recipe’s Indian authenticity, but this is its most recent provenance.  (Googling “boortha” wasn’t especially enlightening.  There were interesting results in Swedish, Italian, and Polish that are similar if you trust the Google translate option, in addition to a 1999 cookbook entry involving eggplant from a publisher in the Philippines, but these aren’t really helpful in verifying that people on the Indian subcontinent would actually claim this as one of their own.)

Anyway, I just find any recipe coming from a 1954 Pan Am cookbook intrinsically intriguing.  😉

We served this up as a chilled salad, and it was pretty tasty.  I wish I had known before I started that the cucumbers were all going to get chopped up into little bits with everything else because then I wouldn’t have worried about what size chunks I cut them into initially….

Actually cooking cucumbers (in boiling water) may be new territory, but as I said, they were pretty tasty.  See what you think…


  • 3 medium cucumbers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried ground chili peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice


Peel the cucumbers, and cut into thick slices.  Place in the water and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft.  Drain thoroughly.  Chop the onion, garlic, and green pepper as fine as possible.  Add the cucumber and continue chopping.  Add the ginger, chili peppers, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve as a salad or relish.


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