With most of us resolving to lose weight and eat healthier in the New Year, salads are on our minds once again. The traditional Indian kachumber consisting primarily of diced cucumber, tomatoes and onions can’t possibly be a complete meal. But western salads which feature protein-filled additions like eggs, chicken and cheese make better contenders for a one-bowl meal.
Modern variations even include cooked elements like boiled potatoes and steamed mushrooms. And when you consider delicious yoghurt, honey and mayonnaise-based dressings, salad for dinner doesn’t seem like such a boring prospect.
We conducted a poll among our Twitter followers where we asked them whether salad could be a complete meal, and here are the results:
The general populace seems a little divided but the chefs are definitely in favour of wholesome salad-based lunches. “When ingredients like grilled paneer or halloumi, boiled eggs or any meat are added to a salad, it becomes filling as well as healthier. For me it could definitely be a complete meal,” says Neha Mathur, food blogger and IFN expert.
When I was in South Australia, almost every meal featured halloumi as the primary vegetarian option. It’s a semi-hard cheese from Cyprus, made of goat’s and sheep’s milk. Usually, it’s fried or grilled before being added to salads. Caesar, Russian and Nicoise salads are some traditional salads that feature boiled eggs.
“Yes, yes and yes!” says Sadaf Hussain, MasterChef Contestant and IFN expert. “If given an option, I would rather eat only salad with nice flavours than chicken tikka :),” he claims.
It’s not really true that Indian salads can’t make a complete meal. Ambedal, a Maharashtrian salad made of chana dal and raw mango, salads made of matki sprouts and kabuli chana are some great alternatives that happen to be vegan as well.
Vegans can also enjoy salads that feature couscous as the main ingredient, along with a variety of vegetables and/or fruits. Avocado salads are also filling and dairy-free.
Apart from proteins, carbohydrate-rich components like bread and pasta also make salads a good meal replacement. “Definitely, salads like soba noodles salad or a whole wheat pasta salad are fibre-rich and combined with lots of veggies and protein, so they are very filling at the same time appetising and healthy,” agrees Pallavi Nigam Sahay, chef, author and IFN expert.
For a healthy and fibre-filled salad, try fattoush, a Levantine salad featuring toasted pieces of pita bread with varied greens and vegetables. Salads with cooked beans or raw seafood can also be tasty and satisfying.
Verdict: Salad can certainly be a complete meal
Chef Ashish Bhasin of Trident BKC sums up the allure of salads, “They are healthy and tasty. And if presented beautifully, what more can you ask for?” Perhaps that’s the key to getting your family to tuck into salads – make sure it looks pretty!