Indian Vegetable Salad

As a kid here's what ethnic food meant to me. Sunday night Chinese takeout from one of three strip mall restaurants within a five minute drive. Perfect way to end a weekend. Oh and Christmas Day dinner of course.

Teenage years I branched out. Chinese food in Chinatown, NYC on cross country car trips with my parents during which I blasted Rick Springfield cassettes (under 30? ask your parents) through headphones that were cemented to my ears as I clutched something called a Walkman that broke during one trip so my parents landed me a new one, STAT, saving our vacation bliss from ruin.

College. More Chinese food, often when parents were in town. Unless everyone's up for T.G.I. Fridays in which case I'll have the Chinese chicken salad, thank you. There was also a Japanese place where you sit with strangers and pray the flying cleavers don't land on your head. My San Fernando Valley roommate would order California rolls (what is that? what's sushi?!) as my chicken teriyaki sizzled before me.

Now I pretty much eat the globe (aside from Chinese food, go figure). Yet cooking my favorites, like Mexican, Indian, and Japanese, frightens me. Have you ever seen a recipe for mole sauce? Sushi rolls? Tandoori chicken?

Then my friend Donna invited me to join her at Naveen's Cuisine for an Indian cooking demo class. Like manna from heaven! Three hours and and a few days later here's my first Indian recipe which by the way takes less time than waiting for a strip mall Chinese restaurant delivery guy to arrive on your doorstep. Honest.


Naveen Sachar, chef/owner of Naveen's Cuisine* recommends preparing this salad at least 15-30 minutes ahead which melds the flavors and cuts the sharpness of the radishes and onions.

He also taught me a new way to juice a lime. For this I'm mighty grateful.

I used curry powder because I didn't have the called for "Chat Masala."

I prepared this 6 hours ahead and ate leftovers the next day.

In a large bowl combine:
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 cup mini English cucumbers cut into 4 spears then chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (I don't peel them but works either way)
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup radishes cut into matchstick size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • optional: finely minced jalapeno pepper

Give it a good stir. Now for the dressing.

Cut off the ends of one lime, slice in half lengthwise, then again lengthwise. Slice out the white membrane on each piece. Squeeze one full quarter into the bowl and mix. You may want to add more juice. Taste and decide. Don't worry, this dish is tough to ruin.

Now sprinkle in:
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chat Masala (I subbed with curry powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (or less)

Give mixture a good stir and taste for seasonings. If needed add more, one small pinch at a time.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Makes about two side dish servings.

**Extra! Extra!**
  • He's like the Indian Emeril. The class is packed with about 35 people and he rocks the room calling everyone by first name, no cheat sheet. At least not that I saw.