Did you know that contrary to what diet books tell you, adding oil to salad actually adds health benefits?
I can’t locate the article where I first read this, but here’s another one that tells you what combining olive oil with veggies does.
What was even more surprising to me was that the ancients across the world seemed to have known this all along! Most traditional salads are dressed with a mixture of oil, seasoning and a sour ingredient.
While the vinaigrette and its culinary cousins are well known, here's an unusual form of adding oil to your salad that comes from my home town.
What we do is warm a bit of oil in a tiny wok (these are sold specifically for the purpose), add mustard seeds and let them pop, and then add the flavoured hot oil to the salad. We call it the 'phodni', which means 'that which bursts'!
Some people also add slivers of chilli for added flavour. Since we're talking about a small amount of oil, it doesn't cook the salad, but it does add a rounded taste that's hard to pin down in words.
So today, I made a beetroot salad that had yoghurt as the sour ingredient, and 'phodni' oil for added health :)
1.5 cups of peeled, cubed, steamed and drained beet
A handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup yoghurt
A pinch of sugar
Salt to taste
1.5 tsp oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves
Combine the drained beet cubes with the yoghurt, salt, sugar and coriander.
Heat the oil in your tiniest pan. Pop in one mustard seed to figure out if the temperature is right. When it starts sizzling and popping, add the curry leaves and immediately pour the 'phodni' into the salad.
Stir to combine and eat!
Unless you like an extremely dark pink salad, it's important to drain the beetroot cubes and assemble this salad just before you eat it.
The picture was taken before I stirred in the 'phodni' so that you could see the popped mustard. It was stirred immediately afterwards.
The deeply coloured liquid that you drain out of the beets makes great, child-friendly dye for home-made play dough.