“If you are making a vegetarian salad, don’t throw hot vegetables with leaves like lettuce or fresh ingredients like pomegranate arils. It will make them wilt and lose water, and your salad will turn soggy,” says Arnez Driver, head chef at the restaurant Santé Spa Cuisine in Mumbai. The restaurant is known for its delish vegetarian menu and Driver has a few tricks up his sleeve. One of them is to marinate soya chunks, if you want a plant-based salad.
Driver’s advice is to boil the soya chunks in water infused with spices like ginger and garlic to add more flavour. Then squeeze out the water and create an oil-based marinade combined with a smidgen of ginger-garlic paste. “Soya, unlike paneer or chicken, doesn’t have fat. That’s why you need oil to give it a nice moist texture,” he explains. Let it marinate in oil for a good 10-12 hours. Roast in the oven for a few minutes or stir fry to cook the soya chunks. Now, allow them to cool and then ‘salad them up’ with lettuce, cucumber and capsicum. Driver recommends an achari vinaigrette with one part mango pickle, one part lemon juice and one part olive oil mixed with the salad. For extra crunch, toss in some roasted almonds or cashews.
But, if a plant-based salad made from scratch consumes too much time, here are two recipes for a quick take on World Vegetarian Day.
Middle-Eastern roasted eggplant salad
1 cup eggplant, chopped into one-inch pieces
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp kale leaves, chopped
2 tbsp onion, chopped
2 tbsp tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate arils
1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp date paste
1 tsp sumac powder
Half tsp salt
1. Toss the eggplant with olive oil and mix thoroughly.
2. Either roast them on a pan for 10 mins or in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 mins.
3. For the dressing, mix the tahini, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, date paste, sumac powder and salt.
4. To assemble the salad, take a bowl and add the parsley, mint leaves, kale leaves, onion, tomatoes, roasted eggplant and pomegranate arils. Give it a good mix.
5. Top up with the dressing and garnish with roasted sesame seeds and roasted pine nuts.
Recipe by Eshanka Wahi, wellness advocate and nutrition coach
Tropical papaya salad
1 small ripe papaya
Juice from 4 fresh limes
3 cups seedless watermelon balls or small squares
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1 cup freshly grated or unsweetened coconut
3 cups low-fat vanilla flavored yogurt
1/3 cup papaya seeds
15 ml sesame oil
1. Peel and cut the papaya into small chunks and toss them in the lime juice.
2. Place the papaya chunks in a large glass bowl with the watermelon, pineapple and coconut.
3. In another bowl, mix together the yogurt and papaya seeds. Add fruit and coconut. Toss to combine.
4. Place in a serving bowl or pineapple shells. Use the seeds from the papaya you’ve cut in the salad for the dressing and drizzle sesame oil.