Saturday, August 6, 2011

Redifining "ghaas phoos"..

Modern day salads have repositioned "healthy eating". People today opt for salads by choice, for the taste and not because they have been asked to go easy on oil and/or spice.
So much so that a popular women's magazine had a salad supplement with its last issue, as many as 100 salads, many of them modified to suit the Indian palate. There were some interesting options though some I think had been stretched/forced fit to make the number 100.

So from being prepared with basic vegetables like cucumber, tomato, onion( with raddish, carrot and beet root added in the winter months) salads have graduated to getting more exotic with names such as tossed rice salad/lentil salads/pasta salad/carrot and raising salad. We think far more innovatively today when we are making salads. I keep adding ingredients even after I have started making the salad. Chicken in the salad below was an afterthought( in fact a substitute for salami strips that I normally add). I added the bread croutons since I was serving it as a meal, would have skipped it if I was serving the salad as a meal accompaniment. They are so handy when you are entertaining, no last minute bother of heating or frying. Keep the ingredients ready, toss them all together and serve. Served as starters too. Most salads can be prepared way ahead and served chilled. Keep a little bit of the seasoning handy in case all of it gets absorbed.
We had an interesting salad last night for dinner and so I have named it after the day of the week( sorry, been rather uninnovative in naming the dish but just could not think of any other name).

Saturday salad
Time: 20 minutes, serves: 1/2

2 bunches of lettuce
2 cups of boiled veggies(beans, carrots, baby corn)
1/2 cup of sauted mushrooms( use half of the regular pack, quarter and cook in a little bit of olive oil, add some salt and pepper to it)
Cherry tomatoes: a handful, these add a lot of colour to the salad, are convenient to use and have a nice, sweetish taste
Olive oil( for the seasoning): 2 tbsps
Garlic: 6/7 large pods, chopped fine
Bread: 1 slice, toast and then chop into small squares
Chicken(optional): boiled and shredded( I use leftover curry pieces- remove the masala and shred them into thin strips- a good way to re-use leftover chicken)
Dried herbs: 1 tsp( I used Basil but oregano would also go well as a seasoning for the salad)
Lime juice: 1 tbsp( half a lime)


  • Place the lettuce in ice cold water to refresh. Leave it in the water for about thirty minutes, take out, gently squeeze out the water and shred into large pieces( never chop the lettuce)

  • Take a large bowl, place the lettuce in it.

  • Then add the boiled vegetables, sauted mushrooms, cherry tomatoes to it.

  • To make the dressing: Heat the olive oil in a small wok/tadka pan, add the garlic and let it turn brown, remove from the flame and add Lime juice, Basil and some salt. Mix well.

  • Add the dressing to the salad and toss the vegetables lightly.

  • Top with bread croutons and serve immediately.

This is a meal by itself. You could serve also serve it along with a clear soup. Lettuce adds a lot of volume to this salad so the portion size is a little deceptive. The portion shown in the accompanying picture serves one adult only.

As with the corriander pulao, this salad combines some fairly varied ingredients for a really flavorsome bite. Be a little generous with the olive oil else the veggies would taste dry. The burnt garlic gives the salad a distinctive taste and helps spice up an otherwise bland fare. Instead of the croutons you could add a handful of pasta, leftover pasta would be even better.

Another successful one dish meal. Bon Apetit and Happy cooking!

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