I love salads, as any of you who've frequented this blog would know. And in winter in Delhi, it's impossible for anyone to remain untempted by the variety of lovely, fresh vegetables spilling over in the markets. But I also constantly need variety and for some time now have been wondering how to impart a Chinese flavour to a salad without necessarily using Chinese vegetables like Pak Choy and bean sprouts. Then I was watching Kylie Kwong's China tour on Discovery Travel and Living and later, Jamie Oliver, and but naturally, got inspired.
I decided to make the dressing very Chinese in flavour while retaining the salad vegetables I love. It's easy and a refreshing new variation on the same old olive oil vinaigrette. Awesome! The name of the salad comes from popular Indian cinema nods to China, in which 'Chinese' characters say something that sounds vaguely Chinese but isn't.
Salad vegetables. I used lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces - and I mean bite-sized. I hate when restaurants ( or people) use whole leaves in salad - they don't absorb the dressing very well and it's very hard to fork them into your mouth! Red radish cut into quarters. Halved cherry tomatoes. The white part of spring onions, diced. Julienned red and yellow bell pepper. Cucumber, peeled and diced. Peas. Green beans, cut into 2 inch batons and parboiled. Broccoli florets, steamed lightly. You can chill the prepared vegetables until just before you want to serve the salad.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, dry-roasted
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch coriander leaves
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine batons
The green part of spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon of jaggery, grated
Soy sauce to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1 green chilli, grated ( yes, I mean grated, so the seeds stay on the outside and only the fragrant chilli goes in the salad)
Pound the garlic, coriander and green spring onions together in a mortar. Put the paste into a bowl and add the oil, soy sauce, chilli, jaggery, lime juice and ginger. Keep aside to marinate for about half an hour.
To assemble: Put all the vegetables into a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing on top and then add the sesame seeds. Mix with your hands ( might sound icky but I find the ingredients get mised more evenly by hand than with salad spoons) and serve.