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Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Burst of a Pomegranate on Yogurt in a Salad Story

Pomegranate, Baby Gherkin, Roasted Potato, Croutons, Rocket salad with Pistachio nuts in a Yogurt dressing…a nutritious Healthy Salad you can carry to your workplace

I feel salads are one of the most interesting playground of fresh flavors n it is full of surprises, every bite can be a little different, every flavor mixing with each other- a kick from this, a citrus note from that, a burst of sweetness all of a sudden, a gentle heat from somewhere, a touch of tanginess…it is a celebration of flavors. A well made salad is also a success story of the creator and a sign of how well the person understands the play of flavors, their chemistry and their combination. 

The reason why I adore salads is because I can be creative with them; it’s a great playground for me, trying n testing with new ingredients, sometimes humble ingredients and sometimes rare ones. For a lot of people salad means compromising on taste, the truth is far from it, a great salad is not only nutritious in leaps n bounds but it is a great carrier of flavors, unlike cooking where every ingredient exchange flavors under heat, mostly in a salad they are the freshest flavors n when you are making a salad you are letting the exchange happen for a short time in the bowl and mostly when you bite into it.

The more I play with salads the more excited I become, often I create salads which are total disasters and no one else can eat that but me, so I have to eat them anyways, but  I have found so much joy in them that those failures don’t dampen my spirit at all. Once in a while I also come up with recipes that win everybody n those recipes spread from friend to friend- the important thing is to have fun, to enjoy the process.

Now from a nutritional point of view salads come in all shades, some are not so healthy while some are very healthy and everything in between. A well balanced salad can replace your main course in the lunchtime or at the time of dinner, a good balance of protein, carbohydrate and fat. The salad recipe I give you today is healthy, nutritious and bursting with flavors.

In this exciting salad I have got pomegranate, that’s what makes it very exciting for me, the little ruby jewels that burst under your teeth n the explosion of juices, sweet n sour. Unlike a traditional vinaigrette with oil n vinegar, this salad has a yogurt dressing and yogurt is my soul food and so healthy. And then we have the baby gherkins in brine, they are so tasty on their own- little sweet, little sour with a hint of pungency, and they combine so well with the roasted crispy chunky potatoes. The potatoes are the only ingredient here that is pre-cooked and they provide an amazing flavor and a sense of fullness to the dish. The pistachios are another jewel and it works in a subtle way, it gives a mouth feel that is unique and delicious. The rocket leaves gives a strong edge to this salad, the leaves are peppery and pungent, and so they tend to come out stronger in taste, so I used them moderately here. We have crouton in this dish, the bread is pan friend in a little oil and it improved the flavor of the bread n provides a crunchy texture. When you finish assembling the salad spread a thread of honey over it and it gets that slight sweet honey flavor mixed with the yogurt, it’s mouth-watering.

What I give to you is a great base, many things can be added to it, poached chicken, shredded meat or a boiled egg or a fried fish, lettuce can be added to increase the green, a bit of sprouts will be exciting in this salad, so it is up to you what you feel like adding, experiment with it, in the meantime I will take you to the recipe.

For The Recipe: You will need
Serves - 2
For the Salad:
Pomegranate- ½ medium, cut into chunks n seeded
Yogurt- 3 heaped tbsp, whisked till smooth
Honey- 1 tbsp
Potato chunks- made from 2 medium potatoes
Baby Gherkins- 4/5, sliced lengthwise or in rounds
The brine in which the gherkins are stored- ½ tbsp
Rocket leaves- 2 medium bunches, washed n trimmed
Cucumber- ½ medium, peeled or unpeeled n cut into rounds of 1 cm thickness
Pistachio- 12/14, slightly roasted n crushed
White bread/ sourdough bread- 1 slice, roasted or pan fried to make crouton
Black pepper- to taste
Salt- to taste
Pink rock salt – 2 pinches

For the Crispy Potato Chunks:
Potato- 2 medium, washed well
Rosemary- ¼ tbsp, dry
Nigella/kalonji seeds-1/4 tsp
Red chili powder- ¼ tbsp
Garlic- 1 medium clove, made into a paste
Sugar- a pinch
salt-to taste
Soy sauce- ½ tsp
Red onion- sliced lengthwise into thick strips
Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp

Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celsius /356 Fahrenheit

1. Put the potatoes on a board and with a small knife put incisions all over them, then place them in water in a deep bowl with their skin on and place it on medium heat, in about 10-12 minutes the potatoes will be half done, soft but rigid, it will take 10/12/ 14 minutes for that,  given that you begin with cold water, so keep an eye, when they are half done, remove from heat and drain the water and place them in cold water, when you can handle them cut them in ¼ inch chunks.
In the roasting pan place the minced garlic with all the other ingredients except the onion and mix well, then coat the potato chunks with this mixture well, place them in the oven for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes turn the potato chunks on the other side with a fork and add the onions, then give another 20 /25 minutes until the chunks becomes crispy. Take them off the oven and let it cool.

2. Take the white bread and coat it a little oil lightly on both sides, then place on a frying pan and keep on a low heat for 8/10 min, flip it over through half the time, you want it to be medium brown n crispy on the outside. When done cut it into rectangles with a sharp knife. Alternatively you can crisp up the bread in the oven at 180 with a tbsp of oil to coat them or skip the oil completely, they will take about 10 minutes, keep an eye on them.

3. In a mixing bowl place the rocket leaves, cucumber slices, the gherkins, half of the chunky potatoes with the onion slices, the pomegranate seeds, then whisk the yogurt with honey and the brine until smooth, add to the ingredients in the bowl and coat with the yogurt, then add salt, rock salt n black pepper, after that scatter the roasted n crushed pistachios all over and then the croutons and rest half of the potatoes and serve immediately, if you are serving it later, don’t add the croutons n rest half of the potatoes n the pistachios, they will get soggy, add when you are ready to eat.

You are done and now it is time to taste, n it is going to be an explosion of flavors in your mouth, its bold n its addictive, I love the moment when the pomegranate jewels burst in each bite, so very delicious, share it with your loved ones, pack yourself this as lunch for work or afternoon snacks and modify as you wish. Bon Appétit.

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