THE SIMPLICITY OF SALAD
Making changes to one’s diet, no matter how beneficial in the long term, may seem daunt ing at first. Many of us have been raised eating certain foods cooked in traditional ways.Though we may be willing to try new ingredients, we may not know how to prepare tasty salads with vegetables we’ve only ever had stewed in curries or blended in chutneys. The good news is that shifting to a diet containing more natural foods requires much less `cooking’, while the enzymes, vitamins and fibre-rich goodness of the ingredients are preserved. Simply chop and dress! By following a few simple guidelines, ordinary fresh grocery and pantry items can be transformed into the most spectacular of salads.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT `DRESS‘
A wide variety of vegetables can be incorporated into a salad, but the choice of dressing is what sets apart one raw dish from another. In its most basic state, salad dressing is a blend of oil and an acidic (sour) element, with salty, sweet, pungent or aromatic elements to balance. When making a dressing, begin with your acids and emulsifying agents (things that will thicken the dressing, including honey). Incorporate the spices and fresh herbs next. Finish by whisking in the oil, incorporat ing a small, steady amount at a time, stopping once the right creamy consistency is reached. Following are a few classic dressings that will do justice to any salad. Once you become confident in your combining skills, try picking and choosing elements from the table on the next page to create your own customized dressings.
Though vinegar is certainly sour and often less expensive than fresh fruit juice, it is not considered to be positive pranic.For that reason, at the ashram and during Isha programmes, we choose to use citrus as opposed to other ingredients which might be less supportive or may aggravate the system.
Consistency of the dressing:
Any dressing made by pouring oil into a blender or mixer will create a creamy, mayonnaise-like consistency as additional air is whipped into the mixture. If you prefer a thinner, vinaigrette-like dressing, grind the fruits in the blender, but incorporate all the other ingredients (especially the oil) by hand, using a whisk or wide spoon.
In most of the recipes in this cookbook you will see we have asked you to `cut (or chop or dice) into small pieces’. While uniformity in ingredient size is needed for even cooking, when it comes to salads, this rule need not apply. A variety of textures and ingredient sizes actually makes raw food more interesting to eat. Experiment with different cuts and chopping methods: for example, try hand-tearing lettuces and fresh, whole herbs (coriander leaves, mint leaves, basil).Though you may choose to cube a cucumber, try shredding carrots and radishes in the same salad. Green beans and celery can be cut on the bias (angled cut), which is not only pretty to look at, but also offers a greater surface area to crunch! Julienned vegetables lend an East Asian flair.
EVEN VEGETABLES LIKE THE SPA TREATMENT SOMETIMES
When transitioning to a raw diet, you may find that your system has some difficulty digesting certain dense or fibrous produce. Alternatively, you may discover that adding hearty vegetables to salads keeps you satiated for longer. In either case, you may want to consider adding a few lightly cooked ingredients to your raw dishes. To do this, simply follow the blanching method for highfibre elements such as broccoli, cauliflower, green French pole beans or sweet corn:
1 Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
2 Fill a separate bowl with icecold water. This will be needed to stop the cooking process later on in step six.
3 Bring a medium saucepot of lightly salted water to boil.
4 Once the water is rapidly boiling, add the vegetables by the handful. Cook until the colour of the vegetable intensify (e.g. bright green, translucent white or bright yellow), but not beyond.Remove from heat immediately.
5 Using a colander, hand strainer or sieve, remove the cooked vegetables from the pot, shaking off any excess water.
6 Immediately plunge the hot vegetables into the reserved ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. This is known as `shocking’ the vegetables. The now-cooled elements can remain in the cold water until they are ready to be incorporated into the finished salad.Simply drain and use.
TEXTURE, TEXTURE, TEXTURE
In addition to utilizing cooked elements and non-traditional cutting techniques, you may also find that the most ordinary of salads can be totally transformed by the element of crunch. Nuts, such as cashews, almonds, groundnuts and walnuts, will work perfectly (even in small quantities) and lightly roasting them will add an even greater depth of flavour. Toasted sunflower, pumpkin and squash seeds likewise provide unexpected texture, while sprouts have a snap and a spice all of their own. -(Extracted with permission from A Taste of Well-Being Sadhguru’s Insights For Your Gastronomics, published by Harper Element, Rs 299)
Classic Lemon juice and olive dressing
12 cup olive oil
Black pepper, coarsely ground, to taste
Salt to taste
1.In a small bowl, whisk together juice of the lemons, salt and pepper.
2.Holding the measuring cup of olive oil above the bowl, pour the oil in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly.
3.Continue whisking until the mixture appears slightly creamy and no whole droplets of oil can be seen.
Uses: Particularly good for green leaf salads, and those using tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, zucchini, squash gourds.
Change it Up: This is a classic, all-purpose Lebanese-style dressing. For an Italian twist, finely minced red capsicum, parsley, green olive, and a half-spoonful of honey can also be added at step 1. To make it more Greek, add oregano (and even a little feta cheese) to step 1.