There’s something about summer. Isn’t it? As a child, summer meant lots of ice creams, trips to the swimming pool, refreshing watermelons and holidays with the parents to the much much cooler mountains.Everyone has a favourite ice cream and mine was (still is) the orange popsicle. Forget the vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, there is something so appealing about the about the tangy after taste and the orange tongue! The evidence of the crime!
But, this post is not about ice creams so let me not digress. The one food which summer is always associated with is a salad. Salads of various kinds, each with a different dressing. It can range from creamy to lemony; from sweet honey mustard to a Vietnamese style salty-chilly. The good thing is, you don’t have to be a Michelin star chef to create a good salad. All that is needed is creativity, the desire to experiment and simple ingredients. (Though if you have the budget, add any expensive item you want! Lobsters, foie gras, cavier, the works!)
Summer lunches at home generally comprise of a salad served with iced tea (homemade of course). It’s filling, tasty and doesn’t need a whole lot of time to prepare. And if you make a large bowl, it takes care of dinner too. I love experimenting with dressings. My store cupboard is stocked with various spices, the fridge with various condiments, the deep freeze with roast chicken, salami, pork and vegetable drawer with, well, vegetables and fruits. So, as I always let my mind wander in the kitchen, my friends end up as guinea pigs!
Roast chicken salad with a lemon dressing
200g of roast chicken, 1 big fat lettuce (can be substituted for iceberg), 1 cucumber, 1 tomato, 3 gherkins, handful of capers, 1 bunch coriander. For the dressing: 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 lemon (zest and juice), a pinch of chilly flakes, salt to taste.
Dice all ingredients and throw into a big bowl. In a glass jam jar, add the ingredients for the dressing and shake shake shake!
In 10 minutes, you have a fabulous lunch ready!
Chicken salad with wasabi mayonnaise
Ingredients: 200g roast chicken, 1 big boiled potato, 1 boiled egg, 1 cucumber, 4 gherkins, 5-6 jalapeno slices, handful of olives, some coriander. For the dressing: 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, a good squirt of wasabi paste, half a lemon (zest and juice).
Dice all ingredients in a big salad bowl. Shake the dressing ingredients in a jam jar well. Pour it over the salad and enjoy!
PS: Instead of homemade iced tea, a pint of beer and a side of dumplings go just as well with the summer salads!
Living alone is great fun. You are responsible for you, you’re the grown up. Bills are your responsibility, so is cooking and cleaning. You don’t look after yourself, you end up sick in bed.
I couldn’t wait to live alone during my teen years. My parents always tried to foster independence and they didn’t fail. I got a job straight out of school, worked my way through college and university to pay for tuition and of course the regular dose of indulgence in various forms. Sure, I could have asked my parents for help, but I chose not to. I wanted to be independent. To be able to learn to fend for myself. And my parents couldn’t be prouder today.
My dad has a favourite saying, ‘Always look at the pros and cons before you do anything.’ Living alone as great as it is, has little cons. Especially when you miss home-cooked food. Even if I try to recreate a classic dish by my mother, grandmother or father, it ends up lacking something. You can follow the recipe to the exact measurements but it never has THAT taste. It’s similar to Indo-Chinese food. No matter how hard you try, but home-cooked Chinese food always tastes different. Even if you try to recreate a recipe by a famous five-star chef with every ingredient recommended.
Yesterday I was craving my mother’s famous chicken salad. The recipe is from the 1970s when Calcutta was waking up to continental cuisine and restaurants offered A la Kiev and Shepard’s Pie in generous portions. She always makes it the same exact way her mother, albeit my grandmother, taught her. I think she makes it so often because the smell invokes her childhood memories. When she puts a spoonful of the the creamy texture in her mouth, it takes her back to those days when she would help her mother as she potted about in the kitchen. She never has said it in those exact words but you can tell as her eyes light up every single time she cooks one of her mother’s recipes. My grandmother never left her a recipe book but instead, taught her every recipe practically, by making it together in the kitchen,
The chicken salad my mother makes is a basic one. You can have it plain, over a piece of toasted bread or even in a baby lettuce cup. It serves as a great starter, wonderful side with your main or even in-between a course. She uses minced chicken with diced apples, boiled potatoes, boiled macaroni and boiled eggs along with thinly sauteed mushrooms and chopped parsley. These ingredients are mixed with mayonnaise and cream and then seasoned well. Then, the salad is put in the fridge till it’s time to serve. She mixes in prawns and other ingredients like pineapples and cherries when she fancies but 95 per cent of the time, it’s always the basic salad.
Like I mentioned earlier, I had a craving for it yesterday. Unfortunately, my freezer was out of minced meat and the vegetable drawer out of mushrooms. Well, I improvised but it turned out fantastic. And when I spread it out on a piece of toast, the heat from the bread and the cold from the salad hit the right spot! Perfect harmony.
My version of the chicken salad:
Boil three baby potatoes and two eggs and chop them in small pieces. Chop in small pieces 3/4th of a big apple. Put the chopped items in a large bowl. Add about 50 grams of boiled Fusilli pasta. (I didn’t have macaroni). Next, add 150 grams of diced chicken salami. (If you prefer other meats, please feel free to experiment).
In a separate bowl, put five large tablespoons of mayonnaise. Grate the zest of one lemon and add 1/4th of the juice in the mayo. Add of dash of wasabi paste and whisk it all together.
Then, its all about combining the two. Once you have put in the treated mayo on the boiled items, add 50ml of cream. Mix all ingredients together and season well with salt and pepper to your liking. Refrigerate till you want to eat it. It’s a great item to make and store for midnight hunger pangs!