Have you ever heard of an authentic Indian salad recipe?
No really right? Have you wondered why?
Indian cuisine has a heightened heritage of over 8000 years and an unparalleled diversity. It has an assorted food ethos that springs such distinct sub-cuisines. Any kind of foodie is likely to find something of their liking. But if there is one thing it doesn’t offer in abundance, it would be salads. We might create some salads with references of Indian spices, but there is no true authentic Indian born salad recipe. Hence, I am often trying to explore this not so rewarded expanse of Indian food culture.
Nevertheless, I have observed these days there are references of Indian cuisine in popular salad recipes like curried cauliflower, puffed rice (bhelpuri) mixes, tomato base lentils, or green chutney dressing. It’s exciting to see that the salad scene today is high on Indian cooking spirits. Here, I am looking to add my 2 cents to the salad scene and make it more savory with an Indian salad!
CHEELA – the Indian USP of this salad
I want to try something fresh and unexplored. So clearly no curry or chutney will work as my reference. In this recipe I am creating a salad around a popular North Indian breakfast called Cheela. Well if it seems hard to remember you can try to recall this with the word “Cheetah”….. Sorry for my bad taste in jokes ; ) But the salad is sure to leave a good taste with you.
So, what is a Cheela? It is a like a pancake made out of chickpea flour, besides its made savory with onions, chilies, and spices. Mostly it is served with chutneys. I am going to use the Cheela as the main subject of this Indian salad and combine it with a healthy portion of leaves, veggies and nuts, dressed in a spicy and savory mango dressing!
Why is Cheela healthy?
I believe salads need not be a bowl of leaves and veggies only. They should have some amount of protein weight, be a good balance of all nutrients and most importantly be tasty. After all who wants salad everyday if it is boring? Keeping that in mind Cheela is a good lead for this salad. Cheelas made of gram flour, which happens to be rich in protein and fairly low calorie. A regular size Cheela may have about 80-100 calories only. We are looking to use 1 cheela for a single portion of salad. Combined with some green health and nut richness, this plate is a balanced meal for you. Having said that, if you are looking to eat a heavier salad, you can always add 2 Cheelas to one salad portion.
Let’s get you started with collecting the simple ingredients.
Chickpea rolls Indian Salad
Have you heard of a salad from India? Try an Indian salad plate created with Indian breakfast chickpea rolls (Cheela), grilled veggies, nuts & mango dressing. This is a healthy and wholesome salad with savory Indian flavors. Namaste!
For Chickpea rolls (Cheela)
For Chickpea rolls (Cheela)
In a deep bowl mix besan, salt, cumin powder and garam masala.
Add water in small portions. Mix well to ensure the paste does not have any lumps. The consistency of the batter should be thinner than pancakes.
Add green chili and onions. Whisk well again. Let it rest 5-10 mins, if possible.
Place a flat pan on heat. When it is hot, smear some oil and pour a ladleful of the batter on it. Now immediately spread the batter in a circular motion to create a round pancake. The size of your circle can be roughly of the size of an Omelette.
Let the Cheela cook on medium flame until it turns golden brown in color and crisp from the bottom side.
Now smear some oil on the top side and circumference of the Cheela. Flip over and cook this side on medium flame till it becomes golden brown in color. Once done remove from heat, let it cool a bit.
Now roll the Cheela and cut small sushi size rolls from it. If the rolls are opening, then you can pierce tooth picks through each roll or stick the ends of the roll with a tiny dot of peanut butter.
For Roasting veggies
Toss the pumpkin and beetroot squares in olive oil and salt. Allow them to sit for 15 to 30 mins (only if you have some extra time).
Prepare your grill plate, brushed with some oil. Transfer the veggie squares onto this and grill until they are tender. I normally grill them for 20 mins at about 200 degrees Celsius. You can adjust the cooking time and temperature as per your oven.
Once your veggies are grilled, allow them to cool down a bit.
NOTE: The roasted veggies I have used are optional or changeable as per your liking. You can use either or both pumpkin and beetroot or any other veggie of your choice that you think will be a good contrast with the chick pea rolls.
In a blender add mango, greek yogurt, sriracha, salt, lemon juice and honey. Blend into a smooth paste.
At this point taste the dressing. Feel free to adjust the dressing ingredients (honey, lemon and sriracha) depending on how sweet, sour or spicy you like it to be.
Add some water if needed to get the consistency of a dressing. Make a final blend.
NOTE: If you have made some extra dressing, you can easily store this in the fridge for about 2 days.
You can explore a different dressing for this salad too. Another one that I use for this salad is a coriander, green chili and yogurt based dressing. This dressing gives it a more Indian character.
Serving the salad
In a flat salad plate spread the green salad leaves of your choice. Grease them with a spoon of olive oil if you prefer. Now spread the roasted veggies evenly across the salad leaves.
Tuck the Cheela rolls at equal distances through the salad plate.
Now pour the dressing through the salad plate.
Add some roasted cashews and pomegranate seeds on top.
Finally, if you believe in cheese goodness, sprinkle some grated Gouda on the salad.
Enjoy a wholesome healthy Indian style salad! Namaste