I don’t dislike all things about summer.Going for a long jog in wee hours of the morning,opportunity to go for a beach vacation and gulping on all sorts of beverages all through the day are few of my favorite things to do during summers.I love to go to the ocean to swim,wet my feet against slashing waves,scrub them with sands,read a book and gaze at faraway ships that are passing by.I love summer best because you can do so much outside- go to the park after a long day’s work, go for camping on the weekends and put up your tent next to a running stream of water or lake,have a drink by the side and appreciate the crisp scenic beauty.The way morning light lightens the leaves of plants is so enticing.Being near to California, most of our weekends are spent enjoying road trips to the state.Once you hit the border and beyond,it’s just so relaxing- fresh air and greenery all around – a short & welcome escape from quite sunny but dry weather here in Vegas.
On the food front, summer has its own bounty – stone fruits, melons,tropical fruits,corn,tomatoes, not to forget berries.With temperatures already in the 100s,we are on a salad kick lately.Mainly coz they are a healthier meal unless you mix in loads of creamy dressing [which by the way I like to do quite often],its definitely the best way to get lots of veggies inside your system & makes you feel super energetic & fresh.Blah Blah ! Well, all of those reasons I have mentioned in the past sentence are overrated, the actual reason being I don’t want to cook elaborate meals half of the time nowadays.
I went to another location of farmer’s market this weekend, nothing worth mentioning about it other than it was a lesser “disappointment” than the first one.P tells me that my expectations are way too high when it comes to “useless” things in life – like quality of vegetables at farmers market or print on gift wrapping paper or color of the wax in a candle etc. That is what he think but I think it’s a female problem [ or quality?] .What say? I m super finicky about freshness of produce & meats I buy.If you ever see a crazy woman talking to the store manager to find out days of the week when they get their produce supply,how they store it, which day of the day they arrange it for sale etc, you know whom I m talking about..dont you?
I got loads of fresh veggies & fruits from the farmers market. Just for a change and to avoid combining them with meat, this time I chose starchy, buttery lima beans.This recipe is inspired by a black gram [ kala chana] salad which my mom used to make with loads and loads of garam masala.It was spicy and just tingling perfect for the taste buds. That is exactly what I was aiming at when making this dressing.For the uninitiated, garam masala is a ground blend of spices like peppercorns, cloves, mace, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom etc in varying proportions to make a powder.Its a common seasoning in curries & meats particularly in northern india.It is quite pungent & aromatic but not too high on the heat level.You can make it at home or buy it from grocery stores.Maybe I ll share my recipe some time.
This dressing is bursting with hints of indian spices, garlic,ginger & chillies.The lemon cuts the spice levels beautifully and olive oil combined with a dollop of sour cream bato give it a luscious taste.It is oozing with just the kind of flavors you would want in an spiced salad.Add this dressing to any of your meat salads,mix it with your dips, pour it over your pasta or drizzle some of it over your soups, it is extremely tasty & works awesome with almost everything I can think of.Below goes the recipe:-
Ingredients [Serves 2-3]
- 1.5 cups dried white lima beans [ Substitute with precooked beans]
- 4 cups of water for soaking the beans
- 2 cups water mixed with 1 tsp [each of] salt & oil for cooking the beans
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1/2 cup fresh white corn from 1 pc grilled fresh corn [substitute with frozen corn, slightly steamed]
- Any variety of lettuce leaves you like, shredded [Mix in ready-made salad mix, I m not giving a quantity here coz it's totally your call]
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh lime juice [ Adjust the lime juice, I like my dressing slightly on the sour side]
- 4 tbsp extra virgin Olive Oil
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onions [ or shallots]
- 1 Thai green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1.5 tsp red pepper flakes [ adjust to taste]
- 3-4 leaves of fresh mint,minced
- Salt to taste
- If using raw beans, soak them in a big bowl in 4 cups of water for at least 6 hours or overnight.Once soaked, drain the water & discard it.
- Cooking the beans:- Use any one of the following:-
- [This is what I do] Pressure cook the beans until tender in 2 cups of water mixed with 1 tsp each of oil & salt for 10 minutes on high or 2 whistles. Once you hear the second whistle, remove from stove top and wait till the cooker releases all the steam.Note: Since each pressure cooker is different, adjust time as per your appliance.
- Without the pressure cooker : In a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the soaked beans along with salt and oil.Cover & let the water come to boil.About 5 minutes.Reduce the heat to minimum and let simmer for 20 minutes or so until tender.
- Once beans are cooked,drain and let cool.You can reserve the water for adding to curries, rice pilaf or stews etc.
- In a big bowl, toss the cooked, cooled & cooked beans with all the vegetables and combine gently.Refrigerate till ready to serve.