Best when tossed: Visakhapatnam’s growing love for salads

The salad has moved up the pecking order and from being a wilting-sidekick is now the star of a meal

Updated - August 16, 2019 04:12 pm IST

Published - August 16, 2019 04:11 pm IST

Salads on display at Waltair Kitchen in Siripuram, Visakhapatnam

Salads on display at Waltair Kitchen in Siripuram, Visakhapatnam

Salads are in. No more the ‘extra’, they are now centre-stage with people seeking variety and nutrition in them. Realising this, restaurants and home-enterprises are pulling out all stops to make their salads bigger, bolder and more beautiful.

Meghana Koneru’s The Urban Meal says it all. The take-away only initiative that took off in July includes in its menu an egg salad with multi-grain toast, a Thai peanut salad, a Peri peri chicken/ paneer salad, a chickpea and sweet potato salad and a honey mustard chicken/ paneer salad. Every Saturday, Meghana puts out the menu for the following week on her Instagram handle @theurbanmeal_vizag. “ I alter the recipes and the vegetables if my clients are allergic to any of the ingredients I may be using in them,” she clarifies.

Meghana Koneru, founder of The Urban Meal making salads at her workstation in Siripuram, Visakhapatnam

Meghana Koneru, founder of The Urban Meal making salads at her workstation in Siripuram, Visakhapatnam

She takes her salads seriously and it is no more about just tossing stuff together. A salad at Meghna’s has to undergo research and experimentation before it is marked fit to go on to the menu. “If I am trying out a new recipe I usually give it to my friends and family for feedback.” She weighs in their advice or suggestions before incorporating them and then sets them before her customers. “I also consult a nutritionist to keep a check on the calories. Each of my salad is below 300 calories,” she says.

Though it is a dinner-only venture, the preparations at Urban meal begin early in the morning when one of her two-member team heads to buy vegetables from Rythu Bazar. “Apart from emphasising on good quality vegetables we also try to support local farmers,” says Meghna. .

Meghana has already built a formidable fan base. Starting from just seven subscriptions a week, today she provides salads to over 30 people. “Most of the customers are between the age of 25 to 40. We start delivering the salads by 4.30 pm as most of my clients prefer having their dinner by 7.30 pm,” she adds.

Peri-peri chicken salad on display at the Urban Meal in Visakhapatnam

Peri-peri chicken salad on display at the Urban Meal in Visakhapatnam

Making her own way

When Ananya Gopalshetty shifted to the city from Delhi, one of the first things that struck her were that there were not too many healthy food options available in restaurants. So when she began Waltair Kitchen eight months ago, she focussed on salads. “Even the few outlets that did serve salads, used processed meat and frozen vegetables,” she says and so she decided to do things differently.

At Waltair Kitchen that is located in Siripuram, DIY salads are the way to go. Customers can choose their vegetables frombroccoli, onions, mushroom, jalapeños, bell peppers and tomatoes. They can also select their preferred dressing from a choice of honey mustard, lemon, balsamic vinaigrette, mayonnaise, pesto and yoghurt garlic sauce.

“A lot of people are choosy about the vegetables they eat, so serving a set platewouldn't make sense,”adds Ananya who is quite sure she has seen an increased patronage for salads, especially the section that offers grilled fare. “Grilled paneer, chicken tikka and chicken teriyaki salad are among the most popular,” she observes. And the customers are always welcome to give their salads an Indian twist by adding some spicy dressings.

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