In the last five years alone, we’ve witnessed a huge change in how people across the world, and especially India, eat and enjoy their food. In particular, salads, which have been a mainstay of cuisines in India in various forms, are enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to different flavours and tastes now becoming available easily in every city.
From the wimpy plate of greens to the withered coleslaw that used to decorate our plates before, today we have crunchy organic veggies, abundant protein and flavourful greens gracing our plates. As side dish or main, a great organic salad is satisfying, healthy and now, with our 5-step guide, easy to make! Let’s get started!
Choose your cuisine and ingredients.
Warm or cold? Stir-friend or raw? Indian, which could involve traditional kosambri-style salads? Mexican, with beans and cilantro and brown rice? Only organic veggies, which also means seasonal? A salad made with leftovers like rice or sabzis? Oriental, with soy sauce and beansprouts? Italian, with oregano? Narrowing down what kind of salad means you know what ingredients and utensils you need.
Choose your organic greens.
Greens elevate the nutritional profile of a salad, by adding fibre and other nutrients to it, as well as flavour. Crunchy greens like lettuce and cabbage versus tender greens like spinach and arugula? Slightly bitter leaves like kale which need dressing or sweeter leaves like Romaine? A hearty salad with lots of greens or a salad with a base of lettuce? Depending on what’s in season, your kitchen and according to taste, wash and dry your greens and tear or chop as needed.
Choose your organic vegetables or fruits
One of our favourite salad vegetables is the humble carrot. What’s yours? Choose at least two to four vegetables or fruits to bulk up your salad and turn it into a meal. Veggies like corn, broccoli, potatoes and peppers are versatile, going across cuisines. You can also include peas, sweet potatoes, beets, apples, squash or spicier veggies like radishes and onions. Organic vegetables and fruits require lesser seasoning due to their fresh taste and healthfulness. Chop veggies and fruits as needed. You can also create a mix of textures of soft and crunchy, like avocados and cucumber, to make your salads more interesting.
Choose your protein.
Protein keeps you fuller for longer and also helps your system function properly. Legumes, beans, nuts and seeds as well as dry fruits like walnuts are ideal ways to add protein to salads. Rajma can be used in Mexican salads, chickpeas add a Mexican flavour, chia seeds add a barely discernible flavour but pack tons of nutrition. You can also experiment with ingredients like quinoa, ragi, millets and brown rice that have high protein levels for a fresh salad everyday.
Choose your dressing.
Making a fresh dressing at home just puts that zingy, final touch on a salad. Combine an oil and acidic liquid to make a basic emulsion – olive oil and lemon juice are a versatile combo that allow for a lot of experimentation with other flavours. Balsamic vinaigrette, red or white wine vinegar, rice vinegar for Oriental dishes and mustard are other condiments that help create a variety of tastes. You can also blend veggies and fruits like avocado or orange segments to create a new dressing. Salt, pepper, oregano, chilli flakes, chilli powder and even Indian spices like jeera and ajwain can make for interesting flavours.