Sensational Salads

When I first arrived in US, my interpretation of a salad was, sliced cucumber, tomato and onions with salt and pepper sprinkled on it.

I was amazed by the variety of salads enjoyed here. There was no single equation to describe a salad. It could be chilled or warm, raw or cooked. It could have just 2 ingredients or more than 15. The assortment of salad dressings that top the whole salad was intriguing too. My neighbor and good friend Karen introduced me to this sensational world of salads.

Coming from an Indian background, I crave for the flavors that I enjoyed as a child. Before I know it, my hands reache for the seasonings and spices. If a recipe calls for raw pepper, I would roast them to give more flavor. If some salad calls for oil in it, I would substitute spice-infused oil to give the whole dish a little more kick. I soon realized that spices make salads tastier. I could also reduce the fat and salt in the original recipe without compromising the flavor. I would like to share some of the traditional salads with an Indian flair.

Potato Salad

The All-American Potato salad gets a flavor-boost by roasting the spices.
I have substituted sour cream with 'drained' plain yogurt

2 cups plain yogurt ( 2% or whole milk)
10 small red potatoes, baked
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
10-12 black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup red onion , diced
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup green onion, chopped

Place 2 cups of plain yogurt on a stack of newspapers lined with paper towel. Let it stand for 2 hours to remove water content.

Chop potatoes into half. Keep aside. Roast cumin seeds and black pepper in a small pan for approximatly 2 minutes. Cool completely and crush it coarsely in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Remove yogurt from the newspaper and discard the paper towel and newspaper. In a salad bowl add drained yogurt, mustard paste, spice mix and salt. Mix it well and then add potatoes, onions, celery and green onion.

Serve chilled

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Couscous salad

Couscous is a wonderful, versatile pasta, made of tiny grains of dough that are steamed. It hails from Morocco and northern Algeria, and is a staple throughout North Africa. It can be served as a breakfast cereal, dressed as a salad, or sweetened for a dessert.

Generally couscous is made of wheat flour, but there are other varieties made of barley, corn, and even ground acorn meal as well. Lately the grocery stores have begun to carry semi-cooked couscous. That further simplifies this recipe. You just need to add boiling water to semi-cooked couscous and cover it - that's all!

1 cup couscous
¾ cup water
1 tablespoon ginger, diced
1 green chili (optional)
2 cucumber , peeled and diced
1 red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
½ cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper, crushed

Add couscous to a large bowl and keep aside.

Throw in ginger and chili into boiling water and boil for a minute.
Strain the ginger and chilies. Add boiling water to couscous, and cover for 15 minutes. Gently fluff it with a fork and add diced vegetables, nuts, mint and spices. Mix it carefully and serve chilled.

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Rainbow salad

This salad calls for crunchy vegetable. You may add any vegetable with the exception of potatoes and tomatoes.

2 cups cabbage, shredded
2 cups carrots, grated
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup cauliflower, diced
1 cup cucumber, diced
1 cup oranges, diced
½ cup peanuts, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon coconut, unsweetened


1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt ( or as per taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 beet, peeled and grated

In a large bowl, add all vegetables, except beet, nuts and cilantro.
In a small bowl, grate ginger. Add orange juice, limejuice, salt and sugar.
Add this blend to vegetables and mix well. Finally add grated beets and mix gently.

Serve immediately

Hema's Hints:

Add beet just before serving as the color will bleed into all the vegetables

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Aromatic Fruit Salad

In this recipe, alight sauce of mango and nutmeg coat the fruits and give then a refreshing flavor.

I prefer to use fresh pineapple in this recipe, but canned pineapple is okay too.
Mango is a fruit that gives pizazz to any salad. Mango sorbet is easy way to flavor

1 cups grapes, red
1 cup grapes, green
2 cups pineapple, chopped


1 cup mango Sorbet
½ cup Cool Whip
½ teaspoon nutmeg

In a bowl add grapes and pineapple. Microwave sorbet and Cool Whip for 30 seconds. Whisk sorbet and cool whip together and add nutmeg.
Mix in the sauce and the fruits. Serve chilled