Spicing up everyday Salads

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

As a family, we eat really well.  I am married to Krish, he’s super fit and he really isn’t bothered about food or eating.  And… he married me – who wants to have a weekly plan of delicious meals, cooked from scratch, with lots of flavours, texture and colour.  Then we have Sam, he is halfway between the two of us, likes his food but always prefers a healthier twist although he is known to eat out with his friends.  He loves a good, dirty burger and watches so many how-to videos on Instagram.  He only needs to plant the seed and I am planning our next feast.


At most of my events, I make what I call the Bhel Puri Salad, which traditionally is cold cooked chickpeas and potatoes with raw onion dressed in chutneys, finished with fine sev noodles.

My version is a bright, colourful salad of cucumber, grated carrot, peppers, radishes, leaves, sweetcorn, pomegranate, grapes, oranges, any salad bits, chopped small dressed with a tamarind dressing and raitas.  I then cover in sev noodles (the finer, crunchy noodles found in Bombay Mix) and popodoms, sprinkled with a little chaat masala, or use a pinch of garam masala with a tiny pinch of icing sugar and maybe a squeeze of lemon or lime.  Bombay mix works as do tortilla chips if you can’t get hold of popodoms.

The first time I made this for a party, the client stuck his head in the salad, it was his 30th and a little worse for wear.  I am sat here giggling away at the thought of it.

Some ideas for Spicing up everyday salads

Baked Chicken or Cauliflower or especially Aubergine.

I kid you not, I take two bowls, one becomes baked chicken, the other baked cauliflower or aubergine.

Even bigger kid you not,  it’s our favourite way to have aubergine and I think my two prefer the aubergine to the chicken.

So, you might think this is strange that I marinade a chicken and veggie dish at the same time, Krish and Sam are meat eaters and I am a strict vegetarian.  I don’t have a problem with cooking meat because I feel each of us have a choice to decide how to live, eat etc.

The Marinade

Here’s the marinade for 500g of chicken thigh, bone-in and skin on or off or half a cauliflower or one aubergine.

Place 2 tbsp soya sauce, 1 tbsp tandoori masala, 1/2 tsp of sugar, 1/2 tbsp cooking oil and a clove of crushed or finely grated garlic and place into a big bowl.

I can never get organised to marinade earlier so I just make the marinade then chop the aubergine into inch cubes and the cauliflower into florets and stir into the main marinade.

If  I am baking all three (many times I do) I tend to marinade and bake each separately.

Bake in a hot oven 190° for about  35 minutes until cooked through, I turn it around halfway and always allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

baked chicken

Baked Mushrooms

So, I baked some mushrooms, I took my food processor and popped two slices of wholemeal bread (white would work) and gave it a quick whizz, then added a handful of walnuts, some roasted peppers from a jar, seasoned well with salt, pepper, garam masala and a 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs (I used dill).

Spoon this on 5 cleaned and seasoned big mushrooms, you could do this with peppers and a little sprinkle of cheese (I use vegan cheese).

Before you ask me lots of questions, I literally chuck this together and add parsley but I had dill, it worked.

Bake in a hot oven 190° for about 35 minutes.  They will love them!  You will love them!

baked mushrooms

Spiralised Courgette.

Who knew that a raw courgette could taste soooo good?  Well, my friends at The Veg Society, where I am their Indian Guru (I am giggling to drop this one in!) it’s their recipe and each time I make this, we prefer it to the usual soggy, cooked mess that courgette usually becomes when cooked.

Take one Courgette, and finally shred it, I have a gadget, similar to a peeler, which turns it into long thin spaghetti shapes. Season with a half or whole fresh red chilli, even I remove the seeds, 1 tsp of sugar, 2 tsp of soya sauce and 1/2 a lemon.

I should be ashamed of myself to share something so simple but it really is fabulous, especially tucked into the naans, the recipe will be added into this blog.   You can thank me later.

courgette salad

For this blog I made Humus

not exactly Indian, but spiced up and nowhere but here to go.

We used to spend far too much money on the ready-made humus pots when Sam realised how protein-packed they are.

One tin of chickpeas drained and into your food processor, 2 balls of cooked beetroot, 2 tbsp of peanut butter.

So, here’s what I learnt about the humble chickpea dish, 1/2 tsp of each salt and chaat masala, start the processor and drizzle about a tbsp of lovely olive oil into it.  Was soooo lush, if you don’t have chaat, use  1/4 tsp each of garam masala and sugar.


Some more Humus Ideas…

I can never find tahini and it’s one of those jars that end up being chucked, so I always replace the tahini with nut butter, peanut or cashew works well.  Peppers from a jar with smoked paprika works well too.  I stick to using 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Keep tasting until it tastes lovely, use lemon to brighten it up at the end.  If something is missing, a tiny sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of olive oil will fix it.

Something to scoop it all up.

The last salad dish to share would be flatbreads, naturally.  Naan breads shouldn’t just be saved for curries.

How about trying this no yeast naan recipe?

Take 2 cups of SR Flour, add 1/2 tsp of each sugar, salt and baking powder with a cup of yoghurt (I use soya vegan yoghurt) with a tbsp or two to form a sticky dough.  Knead, rest for a minimum of 10 minutes.  Split the dough to 8 and roll into balls, then roll flat and cook on a hot frying pan.  The trick is to cook on a hot pan and let the dough rise before you flip the breads.  I make two batches because they freeze beautifully.

If you only have plain flour, add an extra tsp of baking powder per cup of flour.

I’ll share the video on my social channels for you.


Jazzing up sweetcorn

A spray of oil, a pinch of salt, chilli and my chaat masala with a small tin of sweetcorn. Warm it all through, finish with the juice of one lime and fresh coriander or parsley.  Who would think?


This might well sound like a very long blog, but fresh herbs, spices, lemon, lime, nuts, seeds and fruit brighten our salads, especially couscous, which takes minutes to prepare.  Or, we might have jacket potatoes, the beauty of home-cooking!

the salad

Throughout lockdown, I have been so grateful to have a peaceful, loving home and to be able to cook some of our favourite meals, I hope you do, too.

Thank you, as always for reading my blogs and supporting my cooking adventures, please share your cooking secrets with me.


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About Lajina

Lajina Leal, Lajina Masala

Lajina Leal, Founder, Lajina Masala

Lajina had a Corporate Career as an Accountant for many years and whilst discussing an impending redundancy in an Indian restaurant with her friends, they persuaded her to set up an Indian Cooking School.

The fun started in October 2013 and the business has grown from strength to strength.

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