I don’t blog all the food that I cook, and do post a lot of recipes which I find interesting and are new to me. We usually eat traditional Palakkad Iyer style, which in my opinion is one of the healthiest vegetarian cuisines I know of. I’m not trying to excuse my choice of what food I blog about or making excuses for what I do, but if you follow my blog you know this blog is about what I cook and experiment with in my kitchen and you will find the “healthy” recipes if you look for them.
There seems to be a wide-spread belief in food that eating vegetables raw is a great way to eat. Yet, my South Indian community’s style of cuisine, which is purely vegetarian, does not have a tradition of eating raw vegetables. In fact, you will find very few Indian vegetarian recipes that call for the use of raw vegetables.
The more I look into the way foods are cooked in Indian tradition with the suggestion of how to cook them and in which combinations, I realise that there’s a lot of scientific wisdom and common sense hidden behind them. I’m not saying that there aren’t better or other acceptable ways of eating vegetables, fruit and other foods, but I’m sure there must be some reason that I’m not yet aware of, why we don’t eat our vegetables raw. So coming from such a tradition, it’s understandable that I really don’t like eating salads if I can help it. My daughter will go to great lengths to avoid salads insisting in typical frank teenage speak s that “raw vegetables are food for the cows”!
I wouldn’t go quite so that far as I am slowly acquiring a taste for salads that are accompanied by dressings that are good on flavour, or salads that have fruit, and maybe paneer (an Indian fresh milk cheese) too.
Here’s a salad I came up with during last year’s Persimmon season. Persimmons have started regularly showing up at my local market during season and I have come to like them very much. My family doesn’t share my like for them but they will eat them if they’re presented in some other form than fruit.
Persimmons are commonly found in two varieties, the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The Hachiya is a little elongated and looks somewhat like a tomato, while the Fuyu is squat and a bit like a pumpkin in shape. The Hachiya can be eaten only when ripe to the point of bursting, when it has a juicy and honey-like taste. Otherwise it is astringent and leaves a very unpleasant sensation in the mouth. The Fuyu on the other hand does not have this problem and can be eaten when half-ripe, not too sweet and crunchy. This makes the Fuyu persimmon a good addition to salads, and is the star of this salad. You can use a mildly sharp Cheddar or Feta cheese if you prefer instead of paneer, but my choice is paneer for its unsalted and fresh flavour.
Persimmon & Paneer Salad
3 firm Fuyu persimmons, quartered and sliced 1 firm ripe pear, cubed 1 large tomato, deseeded and diced 1 orange, peeled and prepared into segments 1/3 to 1/2 cup crumbled paneer 1/4 cup chopped spring onion greens 12 to 15 leave fresh baby spinach (or green of your choice) A small handful of dried cranberries 1/4 cup toasted broken cashewnuts
For The Orange Honey Dressing
3 tbsp honey 1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh, or unsweetened) 2 tbsp olive oil Salt to taste Red chilli flakes/ crushed black pepper to taste 1 to 2 tbsp mint or fresh coriander, chopped
Put the chopped persimmon, pear, tomato and orange into a large bowl and mix. In another smaller bowl, lightly whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Refrigerate both separately till ready to serve. Just before serving, add the paneer, spring onions and spinach leaves to the fruit. Add the dressing and toss the salad until it is well coated with the dressing. Garnish with cranberries and toasted cashewnuts. Serve immediately.
This salad serves 3. This salad is my submission to " No Croutons Required ", a monthly blog event that features a vegetarian soup or salad recipe, where this month's edition is themed " Raw Salads or Soups ".