Secret Santa’s Salad


The 2010 F&S tree with all Secret Santa packages vying for space

We have a tradition in our company: we celebrate Xmas with a Secret Santa and usually have a office lunch in his honor. This year we opted for a potluck, with every member either contributing a dish or contributing to the common staples (rice, rotis/breads, drinks) pool. I would have turned in the trifle pudding, but given that I was racing against time (year-end deliverable wrapping up) opted for a salad instead.

Iceberg Lettuce: 350-400 gm
Cucumber: 4 medium sized ones
Tomatoes: 4 firm, medium sized
Onion: one light pink large
Capsicum: 2 medium sized
Carrots (pink): 4
Pickled Olives (16) and Jalapenos (6 whole small) (both drained out)
Paneer (cottage cheese): 300 gm
Black grapes: about 20
1 green chilli, finely sliced

For the dressing:
Extra Virgin Olive oil: 2 tsp
Tomato pulp
Garlic: 4-5 cloves
Rock salt, to taste
Olives (4) Jalapenos (2 whole small)
Orange: 1 medium sized for zest and juice

Wash all vegetables very well, leave to drain and dry.
Wash the lettuce very well, keep aside 4 whole leaves, shred the rest; peel, slice length-wise and cube cucumber; halve tomato, remove pulp, set aside for dressing, cube tomato (same size as cucumber); halve, de-seed capsicum, slice length-wise, very fine; peel carrots, slice into fine rings. Halve onion, slice very finely. Keep all vegetables separately
Cube paneer; halve and then quarter black grapes, set aside; Slice finely olives and jalapenos

Step 1: In a wide bottomed bowl, put in the sliced capsicum, cucumber, carrots, onion, finely sliced green chilli, drizzle abt 1tsp of olive oil, toss, so that oil coats all. Add about 8 olives and 3 Jalapenos sliced. Toss again. Do not ADD lettuce

Step 2: In another pan/bowl, add in cubed paneer, halved-quartered grapes, 8 olives  and 3 jalapenos finely sliced.

Dressing for the greens:
In a chutney jar or the smallest jar of your blender, place the finely diced garlic, tomato pulp, 4 olives, 2 jalapenos, rock salt to taste, 1/2tsp wine vinegar and 1tsp extra virgin olive oil. Blend into a fine paste. Retain about 1/2tsp for brushing over base lettuce leaves. Add the remainder into the greens of step 1,  and toss well.

Dressing for the paneer:
Take a medium sized orange, wash well, wipe dry, grate the zest lightly,  halve orange and squeeze juice onto paneer-grape-olive-jalapeno mix, sprinkle in the zest, toss well.

Cover both paneer and greens with cling film, cool in refrigerator for 30 mins.

Take another bowl (whichever you want to use to serve the salad); wash, dry. Lay on the bottom the whole lettuce leaves, either spray or brush olive oil onto the leaves, brush the 1/2tsp of dressing, set aside.
Remove greens and paneer-grape combo from refrigerator, toss the shredded lettuce in with the greens, now start layering your salad bowl alternately with greens and paneer. You should end with paneer-grapes on the top-most layer.

Cover, place into refrigerator for not more than 30 mins. Serve Cold. If you feel the top layer seems too dry, mix about 1/4tsp each olive oil, wine vinegar and honey and drizzle just before serving.


Red, white and green and healthy

Forgot to take a pic before everyone descended on it, so… 🙂

Can be had as is, or with toasted bread.


Yet another summer salad (this time with Avocado)

Yup, I have an overwhelming fondness for salads! Come summer, when appetites seem to go out of the window for a long, long stroll, greens and salad vegetables are so attractive 🙂


Avocado: 1 medium sized, halved, pulp extracted and diced fine

Capsicum: 1 medium sized, sliced lengthwise finely

Onion/Cucumber/Tomato: 1 medium sized each; onions finely sliced, cucumber and tomato, cubed.

Leek: 1 sliced into medium sized rings

Lettuce small: 1 finely sliced

Low fat Cottage Cheese (there we go again): 50 gm finely cubed

For the dressing:

Red wine/balsamic vinegar: 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste; Pepper a pinch

1 orange


Assemble all the salad ingredients in a bowl, toss to mix them well, add dressing ingredients in the following order: vinegar, salt, pepper; toss once more to allow dressing to percolate into salad ingredients.

Halve the orange, and squeeze juice over assembled salad, toss once more, refrigerate for 20-30 mins, to allow dressing to seep through.

Serve with lightly toasted bread.

Avocado is an acquired taste, you may replace it with a fruit, say apple, or add mushrooms.

Light Summer Salad

The summer heat is getting to me, and I don’t feel like eating the dal-sabzi-roti stuff, so am taking recourse to salads and stuff.

This is an easy-to-rustle up, mildly tangy, non-mayo salad (truth is, I don’t like mayo), so here goes


Paneer (low fat): 150 gm, cubed

Capsicum: 1 medium sliced fine

Onion: 1 medium sliced fine

Spinach leaves: half a bunch, well washed, shredded

Cucumber: 1 medium, cubed

Tomato: 1 medium cubed, set pulp aside for dressing

Green olives: 4 finely sliced

Green grapes: a handful, halved

For the dressing:

Tomato pulp; ginger: 1/4 inch chopped; Garlic: 2 cloves chopped; Jalapenos: 2 sliced rings

Green olives: 4; salt to taste, a dash of oregano, 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1/4tsp honey

Optional: Chilli flakes


In a big bowl, put all the salad ingredients except paneer; keep the green olives and grapes aside for garnishing; toss and mix well; add paneer and re-toss; in a mixer jar (chutney jar will do), put the ingredients for the dressing and blend finely. Add the blended dressing into the mixed salad vegetables and paneer, toss well. Turn into a serving bowl, garnish with halved gapes and sliced green olives, put into fridge to chill for at least a couple of hours before serving to allow the dressing to seep into the salad.

Lightly Tossed Paneer Salad

This is a lightly tossed paneer hot salad that goes well with wine, and drinks and is easy and quick to rustle up (you can add/subtract the salad ingredients, being a weekend, my fridge is kinda empty, stocking up left for the Sunday :-)! )

By now it must be evident that I am a paneer (cottage cheese) lover. It’s a versatile ingredient, if it can be called that, easy to add into other dishes or on its own.


Paneer – low fat (cottage cheese): 200-250 gm, cubed

Onion: 1 medium sized, finely sliced

Cucumber: halved, finely sliced

Garlic: 1 clove, finely diced

Tomato: 1 medium, sliced into eights, length-wise (for garnish)

Green olives: 4, quartered, length-wise

Jalapenos (pickled): 4, crushed

Salt: to taste

Red chilli powder: a pinch

Red wine Vinegar: 1/4 tsp

Olive oil to saute: 1/4 tsp

Optional: 1/4 tsp chat masala


Put a saucepan (i use the anodized ones, you can use a non-stick, if you so want) on heat, add diced garlic, roast dry, add finely sliced onions, saute for about a minute; add the cucumber slices, let saute further, toss in the paneer, add olive oil, saute for about a couple of minutes till paneer starts acquiring a slightly brownish tinge, turn down flame; add the olives and jalapeno, saute for a further minute, add salt, red chilli powder, red wine vinegar and if using, the chat masala, lightly toss pan contents, allow to cook for a further min on low heat.

Turn out on full plate or bowl, use sliced tomatoes to ring salad, serve hot. Good with wine (that’s what I served it with)


The Felton Road 2008 Riesling