It’s that time of the year when Mahabaleshwar beckons, with its myriad sunsets, fresh fragrant strawberries and over powering array of flowers. We had ourselves farm fresh and organic vegetables just off the farm.
Since we do not use fertilisers or pesticides of any kind, we pluck off cherry tomatoes and radish straight from the Canadian pharmacy plants and merrily munch it on the go!
For a day and a half, we were just mom and son! We ate, drank and had some crazy conversations.
We both wanted something a bit healthy for our brain doping lunch, and anyways friends who love this dish have been asking for the recipe. So we decided to make it and blog it.
This is a super healthy snack. I sometimes have it as the lonesome dish for dinner too. It’s super filling, high in protein and very very healthy. It does not sit in your tummy, but leaves you feeling full and satiated. The tangy, spicy flavour makes it soooo very edible and tasty.
I optionally also add finely chopped raw mango (kairi) to it and reduce the lemon a wee bit. You can play around with it as you like. Reduce the spice, increase it (yaay!), add onions, take off the coconut, add a dash of green chutney!!! Just go for it. Not much can destroy this dish!
Add to it a dhokla mix, or to some other chaat item. Serve it mixed with broken idli and podi chutney. Let your creativity flow and do tell me also how you played with it!
Soong dal goes amazingly well with drinks. But serve it chilled. Like – absolutely and totally chilled. If you think of heating it – u might as well eat dal. So DO NOT HEAT this dish!!
Have fun! Cheers!
PS: Here is the video shoot we did for the Soong Dal. It’s very basic and rustic, as is the kitchen in our farm.
I detest radish! It’s bitter, pungent and according to me serves no purpose in the culinary world. The Japanese use a lot of radish in their cuisine, and I always wondered what they do to it to make that pungent and mouth twisting bitter taste, disappear ?! Even after tasting that kind of radish, I could still not lift a piece of raw radish from a salad! Until – this lady made me taste her concoction.
The Daughter made another demand — I’m so pleased she has got into cooking! The chef in me feels fulfilled and the mom and me feel happy! 😛
I make this salad very often at home. It needs to be served really really chilled, so it is a good idea to make it a wee bit in advance.
It’s a messy salad though! Be prepared for a white moustache and a few drips down your chin! But it’s worth the dishevelled look you will sport while eating it.
Look for crisp cucumbers with a clean green interior. I always cut off the side of the cucumber and taste it before using it. Sometimes cucumbers can be very very bitter, and even one bitter cucumber in a salad of 20 cucumbers can spoil the entire dish. Taste it and throw it away if its bitter. (You can always chuck it in the compost pile of course!)
The yoghurt should be thick, so hang it for an hour or so if you want. There is zero neatness in this salad, so there really isn’t any right or wrong way to fill it. Slice the spring onions really thin and small. Garlic can be upped as per your taste. To my mind, too much garlic takes away the sweetness of the yoghurt and the original taste of the cucumber.
I add a little of chilli flakes, but you can always add some herbs too – parsley, thyme, oregano. Don’t use very strong herbs. Again – it takes away the original flavours.
The boats can get very wobbly, as the base is rounded. You can slice off a small part of the cucumber from the bottom to make a little steadier base. But – mostly, it will wobble and fall a little to the side, but if the yoghurt is not too drippy things should not slide out and drip into the plate.
I’m attaching a quick video for you.
I hope you enjoy this salad. Do write in.
As always – Cheers! and Happy Times!
I first had Lettuce Wedge Salad, in London, in a restaurant called Roka. Of course, the restaurant has stayed a favourite, as has this salad. I would always, analyse it, gaze at it in wonder and awe, thinking I will replicate it in some manner. And – I would always forget.
The fresh crisp lettuce, perfect square wedges of stacked leaves, the immensely flavourful dressing – everything made it a favourite, of ordered a dish.
I went on a hunch, (because I was daunted by those perfect square wedges) and bought two fresh heads of lettuce. I had no idea how to cut it. No matter how many times I would visit the salad in my mind’s eye, knife in hand, I could not figure out how to cut it. I have no formal training in cuisine, so these skills are alien to me, till I figure them out.
With great trepidation, I cut the salad in half, vertically, root to the top of the head. Then I sank all the four heads in ice water, (more ice, less water) and left it to hydrate for approximately 30 minutes. Let me tell you what happened! The lettuce took in so much water, it took me another 10 minutes to drain it. But the lettuce was happy to have had that water. The leaves were crisp and clean.
Then I randomly chopped here and there, but the wedges were nowhere near perfect. I took a pause and really visualised, and them hit on the right technique.
This is how it is done.
Firstly – try not to use a metal knife. The metal in the knife oxidises the leaves and makes them look soggy. A plastic or ceramic knife works very well. I had bought a ceramic knife from Japan, Kyocera brand, and was warned that it could lop off my fingers if I am not careful. I use it very sparingly, because hey! I love my digits.
Now then on to the method –
I am going to be showing pics at every step because I am finding it very difficult to explain the process! Words are just not enough.
Chop the lettuce vertically, from the root to the top. (see pic below)
Dunk in ice water, and drain well after 30 minutes.
Now take the chopped side, the side where you can see all the layer of leaves, and place that to your right. (see pic below)
Then, take three, (if you have a larger head of lettuce then take four or five) long wooden barbecue sticks, (they should be larger than cocktail toothpicks – about 4 to 5 inches long) and leaving an inch from the side of the cut side of the lettuce, poke them at 1 and 1/2 inches interval. This is done 90 Deg from the cut side of the lettuce, and not parallel to the root and cut side of the lettuce. (see pic below)
The cutting will happen from the non-cut side of the lettuce. The one which is the root side and on your left. The opposite side of the cut side of the lettuce. (see pic below)
Taking your knife and leaving an inch from the uncut side of the lettuce, cut off the part with the toothpick inserts. The toothpick inserts should now be all in a row, and the large wedge should have separated from the main head of lettuce. (see pic below)
Now, just lop off individual wedges, seeing that you get as close to a square as possible. (see pic below)
Trim the wayward leaves, and push the stack of cut lettuce wedge further into the stick.
Garnish, turning it all around.
Another Mexican dish? I’m telling you – the last trip to San Diego, I really revved on Mexican Food. It was so very different from the typical Enchilada, Burrito, Nachos!
San Diego stands on the edge of Mexico. My son was told in his orientation, to be very careful while on the local train. One stop further and he would be in Mexico, and if he did not have his visa and college papers, he would land into big trouble. That’s how close Mexico is! Now you can imagine, the Mexican food influence in San Diego!
The Mexican Street Food, was so yum! Very close to Indian food in some ways, yet a different taste bud was touched with each dish. This particular Fruit Salad was and is my favourite. The only hitch is you have to get hold of the Tajin mix, available easily online and in supermarkets all over USA.
Mexican fruit salad was served to us in a broad glass. They stuffed in strips of Pineapple, Apple, Mango, (and when I made it in India, I used Alphonso — OOOH! the taste!!) Melon, and a dried spicy mango, easily available in Trader Joe. The bottom of the glass had a huge dollop of this Tajin mix, and it copiously laden on the fruits too. I wanted to shove my face into the glass and lick up all the Tajin, once the fruits were over. My son had a friend join us for lunch that day. Poor chap must have thought his friend’s mom is completely addled!
Eat it on a hot day – refreshing, on a rainy day – soothing, on a blustery windy day – warming. This dish just makes you upbeat! The sour, tangy, mildly spicy (it looks very spicy, but is not), will make you want to sing and dance – the happy tune emanating from your palate. It hits all the right spots in your taste buds, and sends a zing up your body, almost like an adrenalin rush.
Use it with whatever fruit catches your fancy. Strawberries, Kiwi, Apples, Oranges, Pineapple, Peaches, Dried Fruits etc.
It takes only minutes to make – the major task being cutting the fruits. We had it with drinks, and it went very well with Whisky and Beer.
Let me know if you went as crazy over this dish as I did.