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Spring and flowers, summer and salads… they seem pretty obvious, right? Salads are great to beat the heat, offering welcome respite from standing next to the stove, stirring and sautéing. And now that we’re back in lockdown, the prospect of cooking 3x a day is… well, let’s just say not something we’re too excited about.
Salads are simple to put together and can offer both nutrition and hydration when prepared with the right ingredients. And, if you look beyond the classic Cae Sal (that’s what all the cool people are calling Caesar Salad these days,) and turn to Indian ingredients and techniques, you’ll unlock a world of flavour and texture.
Our culinary experts have put together a trio of salads that are colourful and healthy, with a desi twist. There’s a lot more on offer than just leaves - no arugula or iceberg lettuce in sight here! (Iceberg is just crunchy water, let’s be honest.) The produce should be easy enough to source, and you probably already have the spices and herbs required in your pantry. So go on - give them a try!
Who: Ragini Kashyap
Ragini is a development professional who now devotes most of her time to her three greatest loves: food, history and education. A culinary historian, she runs Third Culture Cooks, creating a number of culinary experiences for people, from pop-ups to podcasts, to help them reflect on the food they eat. At present, she’s based in Vancouver, Canada, studying and eating her way through the movement of the Indian diaspora through her project To Desi, From Desh.
Food philosophy: For Ragini, it’s about being open and curious with new flavours and ingredients and the cultures they come from. She believes that you can understand people better by learning the story behind what they eat.
The inspiration behind the recipe: “This delightful summer salad is a play on the traditional Maharashtrian Khamang Kakdi, enhanced with the creaminess of Greek yoghurt, and the crunch of fried garlic. It is healthy and indulgent and makes for a great, quick summer lunch. Crunchy cucumber, roasted peanut and the zing of chilli give this plenty of flavour, without any of the fuss! Make sure to use a good quality ghee, as it does add to the flavour. And preferably Greek yoghurt, which is thicker and has more protein as compared to regular yoghurt. If you use regular yoghurt, this will be more of a raita, and less of a salad!” (Instructions for home-made Greek yogurt included in the recipe).
*To make your own Greek yoghurt, mix 5 tbsp of fresh cream into 5 bowls of yoghurt. Place the yoghurt for 4 hours in a muslin cloth to strain the whey.
Who: Sanskriti Bist
Sansriti is a Bangalore-based food stylist and photographer. A communication graduate, tells stories through food and imagery, sharing recipes, cookbook reviews, musings and more on her blog.
Food philosophy: Sanskriti’s food philosophy is simple: she loves to eat seasonal, regional and make everything from scratch with good-quality ingredients!
Inspiration behind the recipe: “This recipe defines my mother’s childhood while growing up in Dehradun. She spent her childhood and all of her teens in Dehradun with her great-grandmother. They used to have a large garden behind the house that was filled with pomelo and litchi trees. She and her cousins would pluck pomelos (chakotra) and make a kachmoli (crushed salad) with it and sit in the sunny veranda, enjoying it with the rest of the family. This is a dish still so prevalent in Dehradun.”
Who: Keertida Phadke
Keertida is a trained plant-based chef from The Natural Gourmet
Institute in New York. She's the co-founder of 'better', a gourmet plant-based food brand that makes all-natural, preservative-free spreads, tofu and crisps. Prior to this, she conceptualised and ran a modern vegetarian restaurant in Pune and also spent time at Nix, a Michelin-starred vegetarian in NYC.
Food philosophy: Keertida believes food is the core of one's physical and emotional wellbeing, both of which are highly important in today's stressful environment. But she also knows that when healthy food comes at the cost of taste, it’s unlikely to sustain in the long run. Good-for-you gourmet is at the heart of her philosophy.
Inspiration behind the recipe: “Inspiration is everywhere, particularly in my family which is filled with great cooks and gourmands. This recipe is a spin on a food combination I heard about from a cousin who has lived across many parts of India and has a unique way of combining food and flavours. As a plant-based chef focused on wellness, I am looking for ways to incorporate whole-foods and seasonal produce in my recipes, and this salad fits the bill on both fronts.”
Tip: this salad tastes best chilled, if you haven't kept your watermelon in the fridge overnight, place the watermelon & matki mixture in the freezer for half an hour before combining with the dressing and serving.
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