Indian Salads: Ideas and Recipes by Nandita Iyer
Salads are an easy way to incorporate fibre, vitamins, protein and whole grains into your diet. Couple of well-known Indian salads are kosambari and kachumber. Both are often served in spoonfuls as a part of a full thali.
Kachumber is a classic combination of onions and tomatoes, sometimes with the addition of chopped cucumber. The finely chopped or sliced vegetables are mixed with red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice. This fresh salad cuts through the greasiness of a meal. You can make this salad more robust with the addition of cooked kabuli chana or cooked chana dal. Chopped salad greens can be added to the salad. Alternatively, the salad can be spooned over lettuce leaves and eaten like a lettuce wrap.
Kosambari, prepared in most South Indian cuisines is a combination of soaked moong dal with either grated carrot or cucumber and a tempering of mustard seeds and green chillies. To make this a more filling salad, use equal parts of soaked and drained moong dal, along with moong sprouts, grated carrot and cucumber, pomegranate, grated coconut, lemon juice and the tempering to infuse more flavour into the salad. If you plan to eat this salad after a few hours, add salt just before eating so as to prevent it from getting soggy.
Green moong makes the best sprouts. Sprouting improves the nutritional profile of green moong, with the nutrients being more available to be absorbed by the body. Soak green moong for 5-6 hours. Drain the water and tie the soaked moong in a muslin cloth. Keep the cloth slightly moist but not very soggy. Alternatively, sprouts can be made in an airtight box. It may take 36 hours - 3 days for sprouts to develop depending on the weather conditions. Moong sprouts can be added raw to salads to provide a nice crunch. Sprouts can be blanched for a minute in boiling water or in the microwave if you do not prefer to eat it raw. This can be used to prepare a tasty chaat-like salad with the addition of boiled potatoes, chopped onions, tomatoes and a coriander-mint chutney.
Sundal from Tamil cuisine is a protein rich dish made using legumes and lentils of all varieties. While it is usually served as a snack, there is no reason why it cannot qualify as a salad. The most preferred dals and legumes for sundal are kala chana, chana dal, kabuli chana and whole green moong. Choose any one of these ingredients, soak between 4-12 hours, as per the requirement of that particular legume and pressure cook until it is just tender. For this dish, it is important that the beans are not overcooked and that they should hold their shape. In coconut oil, temper mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried red chillies and asafoetida. Toss in the cooked beans / dal and mix gently. Sundal is very rich in protein and fibre. To make it even more nutritious, add a bunch of chopped seasonal green leafy vegetables to the mix and lightly sauté until wilted.
By adding pulses to your salads, you ensure a sumptuous portion of protein, fibre and a host of vitamins and minerals to your normal diet. Opt for dals and legumes from the house of Tata Sampann that are unpolished, thereby, ensuring that the nutritional properties of the dals are retained (which are, usually, lost during the polishing process) and adding moisture content to the dal, thus, keeping you well sated.
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