This salad features the amazing taste of figs. Called anjeer ki salat, this is one of those gems in my grandmother’s notes.
This dish was served to my grandmother on 18 April 1920 when she visited the house of one of my grandfather’s colleagues for lunch. So taken was she, she recorded the recipe, and requested her cook to replicate the dish, but to avoid using lettuce leaves.
I have mentioned elsewhere in this book my grandmother’s obsession with not serving food that didn’t meet her hygiene requirements. Salad leaves were not part of her repertoire. I do note, however, that this did not prevent her eating this dish and liking it enough to demand if from her own cook.
The family she visited were a Parsi family, living in Calcutta, who had just come from Delhi. I have struggled with the provenance of this recipe, but have settled on Delhi, because of the style of the recipe and the use of chaat masala.
My grandmother’s then cook, from the Punjab, apparently immediately claimed it as a traditional Punjabi recipe and suggested adding paneer. Adding the paneer is great, but it does mean it is no longer a vegan recipe.
As described, this recipe is to make a common salad bowl to be shared. You can do some wonderful things with this recipe, and you might consider making individual serves, using cos lettuce cups. If so, chop the ingredients a little smaller.
You might also sprinkle the finished dish with a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds to make it even more exotic.
The dish as presented here has a clean and fresh taste. The figs are the highlight.
Note that there is no chilling of this salad. Served too cold and it is tasteless. This dish is best prepared just before it goes to the table.
for the salad
- 120 g cos lettuce - hand torn
- 3 figs - cubed
- 1 lebanese cucumber - seeds and pulp removed, cubed
- 1 red apple - cubed
- ½ cup almonds - slivered
- ½ cup mint leaves - finely chopped
- 100 g paneer - crumbled (optional)
for the dressing
- 1 lemon - juiced
- 2 tsp jaggery
- ¼ tsp pandanus essence - (kewra)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chaat masala
- Thoroughly wash and dry the cos lettuce leaves.
- Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients well, pour over the salad and toss.
- Sprinkle over the chaat masala and serve.
- Adding paneer will make this dish unsuitable for vegans.
- Individual serves in cos lettuce cups makes an attractive variation.
- Kewra is an extract that is distilled from pandanus flowers. A good Indian grocer will have this.