Friday, August 19, 2011

Gazpacho Recipe with an Indian Twist for a Hot Summer

My mother fell in love with a young dashing sailor and sailed off into the sunset with him. They even continued to sail together after having kids (I definitely have my sea-legs). But when the kids got old enough for school, my parents made a hard decision.

She settled down on land with the family, while my father continued to sail. My mother expressed her wanderlust through her cooking. Yes she served us traditional Bengali dishes, but we also regularly had more exotic fare pizza, lasagna, spinach cream soup and tiered Western-style wedding cakes(without the wedding). This made us different, and even led to her catering business, until I considered it just a part of life. Actually, I had more important things to worry boys.

But when I came to America and discovered all the different ethnic communities and foods in Houston, tasted the different spices and savored their aromas, I think I finally understood my mother's passion for exploring new foods. I dived in with glee and ate at taquerias and late-night Pho restaurants, dined at Lebanese places with belly-dancing, and enjoyed Greek food and Greek dancing. Much of my college experience was all about exploring, as it should be.

Now as woman, wife, mother in her thirties, I'm all about melding the kitchen of my childhood to the flavors and spices I have adopted in my own kitchen. My mother has a wonderful saying: "Without roots, you can't have branches."

I guess, that's what I'm trying to do, grow myself and my family by caring for the roots and branching out toward new adventures.

Here's my recipe for a Rashda-Style Gazpacho:

The Spanish Gazpacho is one of the most popular cold soups. Traditional recipes include bread as a thickener and while tomatoes are often a key ingredient, they were only added after Spanish explorers had discovered the new world. The soup has Roman and Moorish roots, so in homage I added my own desi/Indian flavors. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you…this is simple and tasty and perfect for 109-degree West Texas summers! Chock full of produce, the soup is also good for you.

1 slice of whole wheat bread, crust removed
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
(from the farmer's market, aren't they pretty?)

2 pounds of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

(ones from the garden are the best!)

1 large red or green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ a small red onion, peeled and sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic, bruised and peeled
1 cup chicken stock or vegetable broth
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup Sherry Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnishes (optional, but highly recommend at least a few)
• A handful of cilantro or parsley leaves, finely chopped
• ½ a small red onion, peeled and minced
• Green onions, both green and white parts, thinly sliced
• ½ of a yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
• whole yogurt, lightly beaten to drizzle
• ½ a cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
• Additional extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle

1. Place bread in a small bowl and pour enough water to cover. Let it soak for about half an hour. Squeeze the water from it before using.
2. Using a food processor or blender, puree all the ingredients from bread to spices (if using) until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve in soup bowls with garnishes on the side. Serves 6.

This post is part of August’s #LetsLunch, where a group of food bloggers get together and post a receipe around a different theme. This month’s theme is cold entrees.

Here are some other great recipes from fellow #LetsLunch-ers:

Cheryl’s Spicy Sichuan Sesame Noodles at A Tiger in the Kitchen.

Charles’Cold Olive Oil Poached Chicken, Potato and Watercress Salad with Buttermilk Tarragon Dressing at The Taste of Oregon.

Danielle’s Couscous with Cilantro Pesto & Halloumi at Beyond the Plate

Eleanor’s Cold Noodles with Hoisin Pork, Spicy Shrimp and Stir-fried Vegetables at Be A Wok Star.

Emma’s Mul Naengmyun at Dreaming of Pots and Pans.

Linda’s Gazpacho Rolls at Free Range Cookies.

Lisa’s Byron Sprout Salad with Chargrilled Chicken at Monday Morning Cooking Club.

Maria’s Croque Monsieur with Cheese Bechamel at Maria’s Good Things.

Mai's Strawberry Soup at Cooking in the Fruit Bowl

Rebecca’s Rack of Lamb with Mustard and Rosemary at GrongarBlog.

Victor’s Seafood Napoleon at The Taste of Oregon.

If you want to join the fun send a tweet with a #Letslunch hashtag! Until next time, enjoy!


  1. Now this looks delicious! I love being able to drink my soup out of a glass too!

  2. That looks like a great group of ingredients - and I love the bread base, too. I have a friend in Austin and she is SO tired of those 3 digit days. I'll have to pass this recipe on, it looks like a good way to balance the heat :D

  3. This looks so good! Perfect for a hot summer day. I'm only sad that the weather's begun to turn already in NYC. Ah, well...

  4. Thanks for visiting y'all! @Cathy, I hope your friend enjoys the gazpacho those 3 digit days can wear you down!


  5. Rashda this sounds super tasty. What a great summer recipe!

  6. How delicious. I've always loved gazpacho, and the ginger and cumin add a nice touch. Can I still join #LetsLunch? I love cold dishes this time of year.