Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Salad”

A Nigella-inspired weekday lunch

I don’t know about you, but I love leafing through cook books or surf online for inspiring recipes. In a way, thanks to TLC, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson came into our homes a few years ago and thus began the love affair. What was really interesting about the two was they emphasised on easy. You don’t need to be a professional to make something unique and creative.
Then, Masterchef Australia had all our tastebuds tingling from season 1. In fact, when I was in Sydney last summer, the home section in QVB had the Nigella range. If I wasn’t travelling with just the backpack or had enough dough, I think I would have bought everything they had. Seriously, the pans and pots are gorgeous!
I’m digressing. I recently came across Nigella’s Vietnamese dressing. It is just so versatile that one can use it for a number of salads and main courses and it’s easy to add ingredients to it to make it different. Vietnam is a country I’m yet to visit but the first time I made the dressing, it invoked flavours similar to what I had tasted in Thailand.
I was pressed for time today and needed something quick and satisfying for lunch. Hey, presto! Thus was created a Thai salad inspired by Nigella but perfect for vegetarians!



Thai salad with cottage cheese

For salad
200 g fresh cottage cheese i.e paneer (cut into bite-sized cubes)
2 tbs sesame oil (this can be substituted with vegetable oil and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds)
1 small white cabbage (finely shredded)
2 small carrots (finely shredded)
Handful of chopped coriander

For dressing
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 green/red chilly (chopped)
2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs light soy (use fish sauce for a non-vegetarian option)
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs lime juice

In a bowl, add the onion, garlic, chilly, vinegar, soy, sugar and lime juice. Soak everything for about 10 minutes.

Mix the cabbage, carrots and coriander in a bowl. Toss the dressing in and coat every bit of the raw salad with it. You don’t need a lot of dressing for it.

Heat the sesame oil in a small flat pan. Once hot, add the cubes of cottage cheese. When one side starts browning, turn over. Once browned, it would take about 5 minutes, toss the browned cubes onto the salad with whatever sesame oil still remains in the pan.

Serve immediately with some fresh coriander.
PS: Tastes great with Tom Yum Soup !

A side view!

A side view!


All for the love of pasta

There’s something about Italian cuisine which has gotten the world hooked on to it. Pasta is a regular dinner feature on every family menu while thanks to home delivery, pizza and its many versions have become party/game food. I mean have you watched any match at your home with crazy friends without beer and pizza? (Surprisingly I found more Italian restaurants in Paris than French!) Italian cuisine has a wide variety of foods of course, but you’ll come across pasta and pizza anywhere in the world.

Like every other family, I love pasta. Many a night after work I’m thankful to the Italians for having invented this delicious time saver. Boil water, put pasta in, cook and drain. Easy four steps with a sauce and some grated cheese! Takes me less than 15 minutes I swear!

I’m digressing again. I keep pasta in all forms and shapes. Macaroni, Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Penne, Linguine, Fusilli… Come and check out my pasta cupboard! In fact in a flea market in Florence, I kinda went nuts staring at the variety of pastas rather than buying jackets or shoes!

Anyway, when I have some time I prefer to make pasta with a lot of love and care instead like the ones during late night hunger pangs. Recently I made spaghetti using button mushrooms with cheese sauce and a side of apple salad. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

Spaghetti with mushrooms and cheese sauce


Half packet spaghetti (for 2)
Handful button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
Half teaspoon chilli flakes (use the packets you get during pizza delivery)
500ml milk
1 tbp regular flour
Knob of butter
1 cube cheese (grated. I used regular processed but feel free)
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutmeg (grated, according to taste)
Parsley to garnish

For the salad

1 small apple (diced)
1 small cucumber (diced)
Handful of crushed pistachios
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs vinegar


Boil the spaghetti as per instructions on the packets and when done, drain and keep aside.

In a pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat the onions first. Once translucent, add the garlic and chilli flakes. Then put in the mushrooms and let them cook through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be a little patient.

For the cheese sauce, start with the roux. Heat butter and flour in a pan until the mixture has browned. Add the milk while continuously stirring. Make sure no lumps form. When a thick bechamel sauce is made, grate in the nutmeg and add the cheese. Your cheese sauce is ready. Finally, mix the now cooked mushrooms to the sauce. Then, to make life simpler, add the spaghetti to the sauce. Coat well and garnish with parsley.

The salad takes five minutes to make. Add the diced apples, cucumber and pistachios in a bowl. Then for the dressing, mix the mustard and vinegar well and drizzle over the salad.


There you have it, lunch is ready in a matter of 30 minutes or so! And it’s a great recipe for vegetarians!

Summer salads

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!


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