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Friday, October 15, 2021

The Crunch of Summer

Five salads to stay cool.

Written by Sharon Fernandes |
May 1, 2011 3:49:01 am

The next time you have a menu in your hands,and the sun’s blazing overhead,you know what to choose. The salad does not have to be the standard excuse of a few greens tossed in mayo. It can be a meal in itself — refreshing combinations of fruit,vegetables and meat. “A summer salad has to be light,cheerful and seasonal,” says Ritu Dalmia,owner of Cafe Diva in Delhi. “It has to be pleasing to the eye,crunchy and should not be heavy,” she says. While it is the simplest dish to put together,and requires little time and effort,a lot of people get the basics wrong. “Don’t drown it in mayonnaise,it is supposed to be low-fat. Second,always mix the dressing and salt,just before serving. If you mix it earlier,the vegetables lose water and your salad will get soggy. Also make sure you blanch the veggies only for 30 seconds in hot water. Do not cook them any longer. A salad should be crunchy,” says Madhu Menon chef and restaurant consultant from Bangalore.

Here are a few recipes for you to toss up.

Peanut and rice salad

Chef Ritu Dalmia recommends you make a meal out of leftover rice in your kitchen with this salad. “It really is not the lowest in calories,but I could eat this almost every day,”she says.


Jasmine rice: 30 gm

Basmati rice or wild rice: 30 gm

Roasted peanuts: 50 gm

Sesame seeds,lightly toasted: 1 tbsp

Chopped coriander: 1 cup

Fresh red chilli,chopped: 1


Ginger grated: ½ inch

Minced garlic: 2 cloves

Sesame oil: 15 ml

Soy sauce: 1 tbsp

Grated jaggery: ½ tbsp

Boil the jasmine rice in plenty of boiling water for about 12 minutes,drain and cool. Cook the wild rice in boiling water for longer,say 20-25 minutes,drain. (You could also use your leftover rice.) Grind half the peanuts till crumbly. In a mixing bowl,prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients and whisk till the jaggery has melted. To assemble,mix the two types of rice,sesame seeds,chilli,coriander and ground peanut. Add the dressing and mix well. Garnish with whole peanuts.

Mixed salad with eggplant and feta

With feta cheese and fried eggplant,this salad has a Mediterranean touch. “This is my three-times-a-week lunch,” Dalmia.


Round,large eggplant,cubed and fried: 100 gm

Dried oregano: 1 tbsp

Fresh mint leaves: a handful

Cherry tomatoes,halved: 500 gm

Feta cheese crumbled,or paneer: 30 gm

Lemon,squeezed: ½

Extra virgin olive oil: a few tbsp

Hazelnuts roasted (optional)

Handful of Rocket leaves or any salad leaf,washed and torn: 1 cup

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Arrange and top them with cherry tomato and eggplant. Sprinkle some crumbled feta cheese on top. For the dressing,mix oil,lemon juice,mint leaves and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Pour a bit of dressing on the salad,garnish with roasted hazelnut and serve.

Instead of frying,you can also grill the eggplant in preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Thai fruit and shrimp salad

“Do try making this at home. It may seem like an unusual dish,but the amazing combination of hot,sour,sweet,salty,and pungent flavours make this dish truly spectacular,” says chef Madhu Menon. He also suggests variations: oranges,mangoes and melons.


Papaya: 1 cup,apples: 1 cup, green seedless grapes: 1 cup,pineapple: 1 cup (All fruits should be chopped)

Medium prawns,peeled and blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds: 100 gm

Shallots (small onions),sliced and deep-fried to golden brown: 4 tbsp Garlic,fried on low heat for about 10 seconds (they shouldn’t turn brown): 1 tbsp

Small green chillies, sliced fine: 4

Small toasted peanuts,lightly crushed: 4 Mint leaves,chopped fine

Dressing: Juice of two medium lemons; Chilli powder: 1 tsp Sugar: 2 tsp Fish sauce: 2 tbsp,adjust to taste

Mix the fruits with the prawns. In another bowl,mix the dressing ingredients and stir,till the sugar dissolves. Check for sourness. If it’s too sour,add ½ tsp of sugar. Before serving,stir the dressing one more time. Add the green chilies to the fruits and shrimp. Throw in the dressing and toss well. Garnish with the fried shallots,garlic,peanuts and mint leaves.

Laab Kai

This is a hot-and-sour salad from Thailand. It’s low in fat,but bursts with flavour. “The primary flavours are hot (from the chilli),sour (from the lime juice) and salty (from the fish sauce). It’s also made very quickly — less than 10 minutes,” says Menon.


Boneless chicken breast meat,ground very coarsely: 200 gm

Chicken stock: 6 tbsp

Peanut oil: 2 tsp

Galangal,finely chopped (you can use young ginger): 2 tsp

Lemon grass,finely chopped: 1 tbsp

Fresh red chillies,finely sliced: 1 tsp

Finely sliced shallots,sliced: 4 Fresh mint leaves,chopped: 1/2 cup

Coriander leaves,chopped: 1/2 cup Spring onions,chopped: 2 tbsp Raw rice

Lettuce leaves: 4


Lime juice: 4 tbsp

Fish sauce: 2 tbsp

Red chilli powder: 1/2 tsp

Sugar: 1/2 tsp

For the toasted ground rice,heat a skillet and add the raw rice. Keep the heat low and stir from time to time,till the grains turn golden brown. Remove from heat and cool. Later,put it in a grinder till you have a coarse powder. Do not grind it too fine. In a separate bowl,combine the salad dressing ingredients.

Heat a large pan and add peanut oil. Once hot,add the lemon grass,shallots,and galangal. Stir for 20 seconds,and add the stock. Turn the heat down and add the minced chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes. The stock would have evaporated. Don’t overcook the chicken. Turn off the heat. Add the dressing,the chillies,the toasted rice,spring onions,the mint and coriander leaves. Mix well. Serve warm.

Summer fruit salad with dill leaves and yoghurt

Simplicity is key to this salad which uses all the colours of summer. “It uses fresh fruits and can be made in no time,” says Anurudh Khanna,executive chef,The Park,New Delhi.


Apple 1

Mango 1

Watermelon: 300 gm

Grapes: 10

Honey dew melon: 300 gm

Pears: 1

Iceberg lettuce: 100 gm

Dill leaves,chopped fine: 10 gm

Hung yoghurt: 300 gm

Olive oil: 10 ml

Lime: 1

Rock salt to taste

Black pepper crushed,to taste

Dice fruits and store in refrigerator. Take out iceberg hearts and dip in chilled water. For the dressing,the hung yoghurt should be a nice thick consistency. In a mixing bowl,add the yoghurt and whisk in olive oil,lime juice,rock salt and crushed pepper. Keep the dressing chilled. In a mixing bowl,add the diced fruits,shredded iceberg lettuce and add the dressing. Garnish with chopped dill. Serve chilled.

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