Salmagundi – by, Shruti Nargundkar

Here is a special guest-post from “Shruti Nargundkar“. First of all, I apologize her for being late in posting this! :( But after reading her so impressive write-ups, I was threatened a little if I need to learn that first from her ;)

I spoke a lot about my enigmatic connection with Maharastrians since I was a month old! Places where I lived before always gave me a chance to learn authentic Maharastrian dishes from them… I miss being with those pretty aunties (ManglaMausi, RekhaTai, ChitraAunty n BhartiAunty)!!! First reason, I have to make those flavorful dishes by myself :( And other one, I don’t get to hear/interpret that sweet language anymore!!!

Back to the point… You already know my guest-writer ‘RashmiDidi’! She’s the one to introduce me to this lovely lady – ShrutiAunty. I never have talked to/met her, but I’m so happy to have her around in the city! Initially, I didn’t chat much with her, but her posts on foodie groups as well as her blog made me awestruck always! She’s not only a good cook, but a great photographer n a wonderful writer too :) When I messaged her regarding writing a guest-post for me during this celebration month, I got a quick energetic response from her with a super-healthy salad dish, which doubled my joy of connecting with her :)

And yes… I was in dilemma what should I tag her as? And so I asked if I can call her ‘ShrutiAunty’ n such a cute reply I received from her end “Yes Beta, Aunty hi to hoon”!!! Awwww… I so much miss my mum after hearing this :( Better I end up my katha here… Over to her colorful ‘Salmagundi’ :)

salmagundi 1

A salmagundi is a mixture or a mixed plated salad comprising many disparate ingredients, which dates back to 17th century England.

This is a new addition to my gyan – and an apposite translation of “Hingpustaktalwar”. No – not gibberish this, but a concatenation of three words from the Indo-Aryan language family. A family meme.

And like with most family memes, the origin of this one is now forgotten –it probably was a story of a man who was given a incongruent shopping list featuring some asafetida, a book and a sword.

This description is used and abused in the family for an unrelated shopping list, a mélange menu or a higgledy piggledy composition. Generations of girls, including the in-law variety, have suffered disproval and diatribes for “hingpustaktalwar” menus and dishes, be it a wedding feast or a family dinner.

Interestingly, this throwing together of disparate elements of taste, texture, temperature, colour, cuisines, condiments can actually yield great results, as I experienced with this salad.

Why was this disparate and unlikely?

First of all, raw ingredients topped the blanched beans in a mélange of fruit, vegetables, buts, herbs and spices. By sheer force of habit I had sliced and segmented the oranges on my fruit chopping board that is never allowed to be used for cutting vegetables – only to realise I was mixing the fruit with raw onions. The flavours, textures and cuts and shapes of the ingredients were all so eclectic – I was actually apprehensive if the family would like it and if it would go with the pumpkin risotto that the daughter had made for dinner that night.

The salad was such a hit, that now I really want to call mother and my aunts and ask if anyone remembers the story of that poor man – I am dying to know what he did with the asafetida, the book and the sword.

Blood orange, tangelo and green beans salad…

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INGREDIENTS:

¼ kg green beans, trimmed
Ice water, for chilling
1 blood orange, cut into thin half- slices (you can leave the rind on)
1 tangelo, peeled, pithed and segmented
1 tangelo, zest and juice extracted
1 tbsp oil used to preserve Persian Feta
(Alternately, you can use 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, a spot of garlic, a pinch of dry thyme, salt and pepper)
1 medium Spanish onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A handful of roasted pistachios to garnish

STEPS TO FOLLOW:

  1. Boil a medium pot of water and prepare a bowl of ice water. Add the green beans to the pot and cook until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes, and then plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, dry the green beans completely and season with salt.
  2. Using a sharp knife remove the skin and pith from the second tangelo and carefully slice in between the membranes to get the petals out.
  3. Combine the juice and a tiny bit of the zest of one tangelo in a large bowl and add the herbed oil or 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, a spot of garlic, a pinch of mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Toss in the green beans and sliced onions in this dressing to combine and taste again for seasoning. Arrange the beans on a serving plate lined with the blood orange half- slices. Garnish the beans with tangelo sections and pistachios.
  5. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

For more recipes from ShrutiAunty, you can check out her space: Shruti’s Blog

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