The salad has undergone a sea change. The salad bowl is moving beyond leaves and sliced vegetables to offer an attractive and nutritious feast
Contrary to the common misconception that the Ramzan roza is broken with loads of meats and sweets, most people who fast are actually breaking it with fruits, dry fruits and some sherbet. Markets during the Ramzan season are also flooded with fresh fruit of all varieties, not to mention dates, figs and other exotic nuts. However not everyone gets to break their rozja at home. To cater to such fasting clientele, chefs are working over time to offer salads which may not even be on the menu. Such a menu doesn’t just look good but is appetising with a good combination of fruits, salad and veggies to provide the nourishment required after a long gap of fasting.
Chefs definitely say they owe it to the season that they are getting the variety of fruits. Instead of opting for the exotic mix they mostly prefer to stick to the desi breeds and offer a true-blue seasonal platter.
Soujanya, a chef who runs Soups and Salads says she is using everything from the dressing to the raw ingredients that are locally found. “The idea is to offer the best of what is locally available and still make it appetising and appealing to the eye,” says Soujanya.
She doesn’t have a custom menu for the Ramzan season but says, “I gladly rustle up a custom made salad depending on the client’s requirement and palate. And it is an awesome feeling to assemble the colours into one bowl.” At Soups and Salads, Soujanya is exploiting the seasonal pomegranates to the best of her ability.
This takes salads far away from the ensemble of sliced fresh veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, onion rings and a whole green chilli to break the monotony of slices on the platter. “Now a salad can be a meal in itself with the addition of a non-veg item of one’s choice; or cottage cheese and tofu to substitute the non-veg element for vegetarians,” says corporate Chef Vikram Simha of the Ohris chain. Vikram’s favourite for the season are figs, peaches and oranges. “The more colour on your plate the healthier you are. So I would offer something very colourful to tempt even the young ones to dig in and have their share of salad. I do a poached peach salad with some other veggies for those who ask for something different and special,” adds Vikram.
Elsewhere, in Julbilee Hills, a beetroot salad and a melon salad is surprising anti-veggies and anti-fruits. The marinated fruit sliced and scoops served with feta is a drooler for even the non-vegetarians.
Chef Yannis’s constant effort is to offer the Greek magic. “Greece is known for refreshing and healthy salads. Most Greeks can whip up delicious salads with ingredients that are available on hand. Besides being yum, they are also the healthiest eating option. I am assembling a salad with nuts, fresh fruits and dry fruits. Nuts add nourishment and fruits help the body replenish itself from the dehydration from fasting. As a chef, visual appeal is a must for me, so I take care to create a story with chopped fruits and veggies.”
Arugula, Pomegranate and Pear
Salad Greens (Romaine lettuce ): 3 cups
Arugula leaves: 1 cup
Any other Salad greens available: 2 cups
Pomegranate seeds: 1/2 cup
Pear: 2 thinly sliced
Toasted almond slivers: 1/4 cup as garnish
Carrots: 1 thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes: 8-10
Extra virgin Olive oil / Any good olive oil: 3/4 cup
Lemon Juice: 1 tsp
Red wine vinegar: 2 tbsp
Honey: 2 tbsp
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a bowl mix lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey and slowly drizzle olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. In another bowl toss salad greens, thinly sliced pears, carrots, tomatoes, toasted almond slivers with dressing. Just before serving, garnish generously with pomegranate seeds and serve.
Soups and Salads
Green and red apples: Half an apple (each)
Black grapes: 10
Pomegranate: Half Dry figs: 10 gm (chopped)
Pine nuts: 10 gm (chopped)
Almond flakes: 10 gm (chopped)
Chestnuts: 10 gm
Raisins: 10 gm
Pistachio: 10 gm (chopped)
Spinach: 1 small bunch
For the dressing
Orange juice: 1 cup (approximately)
Olive oil: 1 tbsp
Honey: 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1 tsp
To prepare the dressing, pour a little orange juice, olive oil and honey in a small bowl and mix gently. Cut the fresh and dry fruits in desired shapes and sizes. Pour the dressing over the fruits and mix well. Spread some fresh spinach leaves on a plate and arrange the fruits on the leaves. Garnish with cinnamon powder and serve fresh.
Chef Yannis Mavris
The Blue Door
Grilled peach, apple and feta
Stoned grilled fresh peach: 2
Fresh red apple: 1/2
Soaked raisin: 25 gm
Roasted walnuts: 25 gm
Fresh iceberg lettuce
Asparagus spears: 4-5
Feta cheese: 20 gm
Balsamic vinegar: 1 cup
Roasted garlic: 1 tbsp
Olive oil: 2 tbsp
Dill leaves: 2 sprigs
For the dressing: Stir balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool. Then add some balsamic vinegar, crushed roasted garlic, fine chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients with the dressing and garnish with some fresh chopped dill leaves.