Riot of colours, flavours in your salad bowl
The bounty at vegetable markets is finding its way into the salad bowls in Indian hotels.india Updated: Oct 14, 2005 20:14 IST
From arugula leaves that have a crunch and a peppery tinge to lettuce buds and zucchini, the bounty at vegetable markets is finding its way into the most divine salad bowls in Indian hotels.
Salad leaves and coloured bell peppers are becoming hot favourites for toss it up your way spreads. Judging by the salad bars at buffet spreads, it's clear that greens offer a wave of flavours for every palate.
At Taj Exotica in Goa, along with variegated salad leaves, the roasted bell pepper soup with rosemary is a winner.
"Lots of Indians want salad to be an essential part of dining or lunching," chef Rego at Exotica said. "We offer a range of seven salads every day and the salads keep changing every day of the week according to the availability."
At Mumbai's Grand Maratha, the coffee shop does brisk business with the salad section and a humble soup thrown in. "Often people only want a soup and salads," says chef Bala watching diners wolf down the greens in less than a few minutes.
Known for his eye for perfection, ITC India corporate chef Nalin Fonseca dished out a Sri Lankan festival last year, creating a dozen salads that were brilliant displays of leaf and crunch variations.
"Salads are about creating a signature that is subtle but also keeping it light enough for a person to go for a second helping," he says.
In Bangalore's Windsor Manor, the most irresistible new arrivals are immature whole lettuce heads sold at the local market. Their baby lolla rossa is a red-and-green lettuce with fluffy frilled edges that give a salad lightness and texture and the softball-size Old French iceberg that is sweet, with curlicued leaf edges.
"Whole heads of lettuce stay fresh a lot longer than pre-cut leaves, and keeping the leaves connected to the root helps them keep their snap in your refrigerator," says Raj Rao, food and beverage (F&B) director at Oberoi Delhi.
Baby lettuce heads can also be had at Oberoi's 360 in Delhi when they are lucky to get succulent, robust ones.
In fact, salads, both Thai and Western, seem to be in vogue. "The trend is to make salads that are mild on the tongue and intensely satisfying," says chef Dean Baksh at The Park in New Delhi.
How to choose? The proliferation of organic greens, Asian vegetables and herbs of all stripes means that Indians who just want to make a plain salad are faced with bewildering choices.
At The Park's Fire, chef Baksh has created a robust Caesar with tandoori chicken nuggets thrown in with a sauce. "Salads can be played around with and fusion is in," he says.
It's no wonder that so many diners want freshly made salads. "Let us not forget that most Indians who eat out are well and widely travelled," says Thomas Abraham, F&B director of Taj Palace Hotel, Delhi.
"Freshness becomes the most vital and critical consideration," says Thomas.
At Kolkata's The Grand, the salads at the coffee shop are the mainstay of the buffet.
"All you need to do is sit and watch how many times the salad bar is replenished," Fonseca, who used to work there, said.
"We are careful not to overpower the wholesome final flavour with anything, but keep individual flavours distinct so that the end result is a delectable memory," he says.
For the moment, Indians are certainly having their greens and eating them too!
First Published: Oct 11, 2005 20:40 IST