I’m one of those people who constantly blames their maladies on the changing weather. It’s hot one day, then cold the next, and this clogs up my sinuses quite virulently. Eating between seasons can be a problem too- should I still be eating things that keep me warm like panjiri, or should I begin transitioning to foods that act as natural coolants since it’s getting hotter everyday? While mothers everywhere know exactly when to flip the switch, if I’m cooking for myself, I’m more careful. Since I tend to fall sick between seasons, I opt for a diet that’s more wholesome and rich in greens, veg and seeds. Also, I actively opt for foods that will up my Vitamin-C intake cause that would boost my immune system. Both salads in this feature are fun to make and don’t compromise on taste. There’s a bit of work involved in each of them, so don’t expect them to come together in a jiff.
This first salad brings together pulled jackfruit, warm beets, grilled aubergines, baby spinach, arugula, charmagaz seeds and a garlic aioli dressing. The quickest way to make it is by firing up the pressure cooker, grill pan and a pot of boiling water at the same time for the jackfruit, aubergines and beets respectively.
Jackfruit 500g, ask your vegetable vendor to chop it into bits for you. If you have to handle the jackfruit yourself, remember to oil your hands first. Separate the flesh from the outer skin, and keep ready
Vegetable Oil 1 tsp
Onions 1, large, cut thinly
Garlic 4-5 cloves
The Spice Mix
Red chilli powder 1 tbsp
Black pepper 1/2 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tbsp
Ground Coriander 1/2 tbsp
Sugar 1/2 tbsp
Aubergine 1, chopped into thick long batons, seasoned with salt and kept aside
Beets 2, unpeeled
Arugula/ Rocket leaves 1/2 bunch, refreshed
Baby Spinach 1/2 bunch, refreshed
Charmagaz seeds 2-3 tbsp, lightly toasted
Lemon 1, halved
Roasted Garlic Aioli (makes extra, and that’s okay)
Garlic 3 cloves, lightly roasted whole in a frying pan till fragrant, then crushed
Dijon mustard 1 tsp
Egg yolk 1
Extra virgin olive oil 285ml
Olive oil 285ml
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Refresh the salad greens, arugula and baby spinach by immersing them in ice cold water.
Bring a pot of water to the boil like you would for pasta. When it is boiling, salt it and add the unpeeled beets. Cover and let it boil for about 30-40 minutes till it is fork tender. Drain the water and run the beets under a tap of cold water, then slip the skins off the beets easily and keep it aside.
Make the roasted garlic aioli by whisking together the dijon mustard with the egg yolk in a mixing bowl placed over a piece of cloth to ensure it doesn’t move around as you’re whisking. The pre-roasted smashed garlic goes in next. Now in a steady slow drizzle, begin adding the extra virgin olive oil, whisking all the time. You can increase the speed at which you pour the oil as you go. Keep doing this till the oil has been incorporated into the aioli and the mixture is thick and luscious. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with the lemon juice. Set aside.
In a pressure cooker, add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil and set it over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic and cook this, constantly stirring for about 4 minutes till both onions and garlic have a good golden colour going. Add in the jackfruit flesh and any seeds with it, then add all the ingredients for the dry spice mixture. Give it a good toss and let it continue to cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes till everything has heated up evenly and the spices have been activated. Now cover this mixture with water up till the surface of the jackfruit and let it pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Release the pressure and check on the jackfruit and the seeds to check if it can be pulled apart with a fork and the beans are soft but not turning into mush. If it’s still not tender, pressure cook for 1-2 more whistles. Check for salt, then using a fork pull all the jackfruit flesh and set it aside.
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until smoking. Brush the surface with some olive oil and place the aubergine batons. Cook in batches, turning once, for 2-3 minutes. Get a good colour going. Do this for all the aubergine batons. Check for salt and set aside.
Spin the salad greens and start assembling the salad. In a bowl bring together a bunch of the mixed greens, toss over some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and give it a toss lightly using just your fingers. Segment the boiled beets and place over the bed of greens, then throw in some of the grilled aubergines, the pulled jackfruit and sprinkle over some of the garlic aioli dressing. Scatter a tablespoon of the charmagaz seeds finish with a spritz of lemon juice.
Salad number two is an Asian salad that packs a lot of punchy flavours together in a creamy spicy dressing. There’s grapefruit, roundels of squid, peanuts, fried onions, a double hit of coconut and a fiery sambal oelek. This is the salad you’ll pine after in the colder months.
Salted peanuts 1 small packet or about 100g
Desiccated Coconut 40g, toasted
Kaffir Lime leaves 3, centre vein removed and finely sliced
Red onion 1 large, thinly sliced and fried golden brown like we do for a Biryani topping
Squid 350-400g, cleaned and cut into roundels
Red Onion 1 large, thinly sliced
Garlic 4 cloves, sliced
Palm sugar 1 tbsp or 1 tbsp jaggery/gur
Coconut milk 1 200ml tetra pack
Sambal Oelek 1 tbsp, from a jar
Lime 1, juiced
Fish sauce 2 tbsp
To make the dressing, heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of oil and let the onions and garlic soften over very low heat for about 12 minutes. Add to this the palm sugar, coconut milk, the sambal oelek and increase the heat to medium. Reduce the coconut milk till it has thickened, then add in the fish sauce and lime juice for taste and take it off the heat.
Toss the roundels of squid with some salt and pepper. Next, place a grill pan over high heat until smoking. Brush with some vegetable oil, and add the seasoned squid to the pan. Toss and keep turning till charred on all sides. Cook for only up till 3 minutes, then take it off the heat.
Segment the grapefruit and add to the bowl. Add to it the squid roundels, the peanuts, toasted desiccated coconut, kaffir lime leaves and fried onion. Spoon over the sambal oelek dressing and serve.