Getting salad greens where i live in Hyderabad is like searching for a needle in the haystack. You may get iceberg lettuce if the local subway hasn’t beaten you to the store yet, nothing more. I understand the shops wont stock anything that doesn’t have a good enough demand, but i cant stop craving. Also, thanks to the internet, i refuse to believe that sliced cucumbers and tomatoes comprise of salad. I started growing my own mustard greens which are coming along great and haven’t yet been harvested. On my recent trip to Bangalore, i found as many as three kinds of lettuce in a fancy store. Thankfully the price wasn’t fancy. For 10 rupees, i got a pack of mixed salad greens from which i recognised two as rocket and curly red lettuce i snapped up a few packs of those and was determined to take them back, even at the cost of it not being as crisp after the ordeal of the plane journey that Bangalore to Hyderabad is and then sitting in the fridge. But hey, you cant blame me for acting crazy in the presence of lettuce.
The first day that i got back, i had a client visit and bang opposite is a fancy so called gourmet store. I cant resist a grocery store, much less a gourmet one. I reminded myself that i needed to go in to pick up fruit. I was feeling snobbish when i saw the lettuce, everything else in the vegetable section i already had, so I came out with no fruit, but one avocado, some cherry tomatoes and coloured peppers. How’s that for being focussed.
I’ve eaten avocado before, but never at home. The once someone gave me a fruit, it sat in the fridge till it was only useful as a face scrub with chickpea flour and sugar granules and trust me my skin glowed with it! I was determined to make something fancy with the avocado, then realised the lettuce was sitting there for me to take notice since two days, which meant that a salad was the order of the day with an appearance from the avocado.
To cut an already long story about lettuce short, this salad, which even if i say so myself is the best i have ever made. Its been my lunch/dinner for 3 days straight and i am not complaining. I served it to a friend last evening and he too was oohing and aahing over it! The texture of the buttery avocado against the crunch of the cucumber slices, the tartness of the tomato paired with the sweetness of the smoky roasted bell peppers and all on a bed of not so bad lettuce… heaven. Pardon me for the drama, but i did say i was lettuce deprived. If you want to know what all the fuss is all about, you have to make it yourself.
My Current Favourite Salad (Serves 2)
Two handfuls of assorted lettuce
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved, or 1 cup regular tomatoes diced
1 cup cucumbers, peeled & sliced
2 green onions, white and greens chopped
1/3 avocado, skinned and sliced into bite sized pieces
½ cup slivers of roasted yellow and red bell peppers (i roast the bell peppers on an open flame till the outside skin is charred, remove the charred skin and slice and store in an airtight box for upto 2 days in the fridge to be used in salads, for longer storage, freeze & use in pastas)
For the dressing:
2 teaspoons eggless low fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon tomato ketchup / sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon thai red chilli sauce
For the garnish:
Crushed pepper, red chilli powder, salt
Wash all the vegetables and refrigerate till cold. Immerse the lettuce in 2 cups of water + 6-7 ice cubes to ensure it is crunchy. When ready to serve, peel and prepare all the veggies. Line a salad bowl with lettuce, add all the vegetables to it, except the green onion. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together, adding a tablespoon of water to thin it out. Pour this over the salad. Add the green onions, add freshly crushed pepper, salt and red chilli powder. Toss lightly and serve immediately.