This crisp and clean bunch of ingredients, mixed with some warming sweet spices, works together as tightly as the rhythm section of James Brown’s funk band.
Serves 4 as a side
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
5 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup flaked almonds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 medium bulbs of fennel
3 Empire or Gala apples
½ a cucumber
a large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1¼ teaspoons garam masala
Grab a mortar and pestle, and bash the fennel seeds until they’re coarsely ground. Next, put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the almonds, stir-fry for a couple of minutes until they turn pale gold, then add the ground fennel seeds, ginger, honey, and 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Stir-fry for another minute until caramelized. Carefully tip onto a plate and leave to cool.
To make the salad, fill a big bowl with cold water. Cut the lemon in half, squeeze the juice into the water, then chuck in the lemon halves, to stop the fennel and apple discoloring. Very finely slice (or shave on a mandolin) the fennel and put it into the lemony water. Slice the apples thinly and add them to the bowl. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then slice it thinly and keep to one side.
Drain the fennel and apple really well, discard the lemon halves, and put the mixture into a serving bowl along with the cucumber and mint. To make the dressing, mix together 3 tablespoons of oil with the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, garam masala, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Crumble the caramelized almonds into the salad and pour over the dressing just before serving. Toss together using your hands or a pair of tongs, then serve.