Tara Deshpande Tennebaum's book reveals the 'ideal dressing' for a salad

Updated: Jan 28, 2018, 09:52 IST | Team Sunday Midday | Mumbai

An extract from actor and passionate foodie Tara Deshpande Tennebaum's book reveals the 'ideal dressing' for a salad, while deconstructing classic Indian dishes to their raw form

Tara Deshpande Tennebaum. Courtesy/Penguin Random Books
Tara Deshpande Tennebaum. Courtesy/Penguin Random Books

Salads shoulder a big responsibility. A salad must sometimes act as a palate cleanser, sometimes beef up a lighter meal, and sometimes just be the fresh, green part of an eating experience. In India, salads are becoming more essential to everyday eating. While our traditional and delicious raitas, koshimbris and crudites work well with curries and kebabs, the more health-conscious global gourmets crave more options. As in the West, where salads are entire meals meant for a quick energizing lunch or a complete dinner for a family, India too is looking at single one-dish meals that working women can put together without too much fuss.

The structure of a salad needs some tweaking to survive India's humidity and ensure it is fresh and hearty when you are ready to eat it. In short, think out of the box. Take all the ingredients you cook with and uncook them. Instead of a cooked ash gourd sabzi, shred the vegetable into spaghetti like noodles and serve with a warm dressing of olive oil and garlic. Instead of the usual pecans and pine nuts, use local chironji and red pumpkin seeds. Go a step further and instead of the usual balsamic vinegar, explore the huge variety of souring agents we have in India—bilimbi, kokum and vatamba are just a few. India is a great country for inexpensive cold-pressed oils of every variety—flaxseed, mustard, coconut and more. Instead of imported cranberries, consider the local dried karaunda or beautiful dried Kashmiri apricots. Make salads a byword for taste, health, economy and fun.

Vindaloo Salad

Vindaloo Salad
For the Salad:
8 large eggs at room temperature
1½ cups Goa rice, washed and drained
1 cup finely sliced scallions
4 tbsp sliced pickled onions
4 tsp crispy garlic
4 tsp crispy fried onions
4 rashers bacon, finely chopped
1½ cups finely chopped red
plum tomatoes
½ tbsp refined oil
½ tsp white vinegar
A pinch of salt

For the Dressing:
4 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tbsp freshly ground red
chilli paste or more to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of ½ lime
½ tsp jaggery or to taste

Method:
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and refrigerate overnight.

Put the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the bacon until crisp. Add the Goa rice and stir well. Add enough water to cover the rice. Cover the saucepan and cook until tender.

Heat water in a deep saucepan, about 3–4 inches deep, on high flame. Add the white vinegar and a pinch of salt and coddle each egg until just cooked; the yolk should be runny. Optionally, you can use an egg poaching pan.

Divide the tomatoes between four breakfast, soup or pasta bowls. Ladle the rice over the tomatoes. Make a well in the centre of every mound of rice. Drain and gently plop the eggs into the middle of each plate, in the wells of rice.

Shake the dressing and taste for seasoning. Adjust, if required. Drizzle the dressing over every plate. Top with the crispy garlic, scallions and pickled onions. Serve hot.

Chicken korma Salad

Chicken korma Salad
For the Salad:
3 cups chopped, boneless, skinless, leftover chicken pieces
¼ cup celery with leaves, very finely chopped
¼ cup dried, sweetened berries like chanya mor, karaunda, ber or cranberries
¼ cup unsalted, roasted cashew pieces
1 red onion, sliced thinly into rings
½ cup light cream
1 teaspoon red chilli hot sauce or to taste

For the Dressing:
2 tbsp saffron oil
¼ cup vegetable oil
1-inch turmeric root
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger root, fresh grated
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted, lightly pounded
1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted, lightly pounded
1 tsp red chilli flakes, crushed
Juice of ½ lime
¼ tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste

Method:
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar. Shake well and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the fridge and strain. Discard the strained bits and pieces.

Whisk the dressing into the light cream. Toss the remaining ingredients for the salad together.

Spoon the dressing over the chicken and toss again. Use only as much dressing as required to lightly coat the salad. Stir well and adjust the seasoning if required.
Garnish with celery leaves and cashew pieces. Serve cold with melba toast or crackers.

Excerpted with permission from An Indian Sense of Salad by Tara Deshpande Tennebaum, published by Penguin Random House, India

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