The joys of a cold meal

There’s a new trend in oriental salads, but the best stuff is off the menu.

Kushan Mitra | Print Edition: October 5, 2008

Naresh Wadhwa, Executive Chef at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi
Acold meal can be quite refreshing on a hot day,” Naresh Wadhwa, Executive Chef at the Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, tells me. And it is hot. The sun is beating down. So, Chef Wadwa offers me an Oriental salad. Now, Oriental cuisine— be it Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese or Thai—isn’t known for its cold meals.

But with the weather taking a turn, Wadhwa recently concocted a cold food menu at The Tea House of the August Moon at the Taj Palace. And golly, it is good. Cool and crunchy, more delicate than the hot stuff, which often feels inundated in spices. Nevertheless, it’s still unmistakably Eastern. You can find cold salads at all major East Asian restaurants of the Taj Group, but most of the dishes are “offmenu”.

So, speak to the Maitre’d and ask him or her what the cold salad specials are. “You won't see many of these salads on the menu, but that does not mean that we can't make them,” explains Wadhwa. So, the next time you find yourself at an Oriental restaurant in a five-star, ask for the off-menu salads. He has been kind enough to share a couple of Sichuan recipes with BT More. Now, if you fancy it, you can try your hand at making a cold meal that is so much more than a cold meal.

Vegetable cold noodle with Spicy Peanut Butter Vinegar Sauce
Ingredients (for two)

Noodles 150 gm
Shredded carrot 5 gm
Shredded black mushroom 2 gm
Shredded bamboo shoots 5 gm
Shredded celery 8 gm
Bean sprouts 5 gm
Spring onions, chopped 1
Ginger, chopped 3 gm
Garlic, chopped 3 gm
Chilli paste 5 gm
Salt 2 gm
Ajinomoto 2 gm
Sugar 4 gm
Soya sauce 5 ml
Vinegar 5 ml
Chilli oil 5 ml
Sesame oil 2 ml
Peanut butter 10 gm

Vegetable cold noodle with Spicy Peanut Butter Vinegar Sauce
Method of preparation
• Blanch the noodles in boiling water and set aside.
• Now, in a bowl, collect all the shredded vegetables. Blanch them in boiling water, too.
• Season the boiled vegetables with ajinomoto and vinegar and set aside.
• In a platter, arrange the boiled noodles and arrange the seasoned vegetables on top.
• In a bowl, place ginger, garlic, spring onions, peanut butter and chilli paste. Mix well.
• Spread the peanut butter dip on top of the noodle arrangement. Serve cold.

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cuisine: Sichuan

Cuttle fish chilli lemon coriander
Cuttle fish chilli lemon coriander
Ingredients (for two)

Sliced cuttle fish 180 gm
Chopped onions 10 gm
Chopped fresh red chillies 3 gm
Chopped coriander 8 gm
Sliced onions 5 gm
Lemon juice 10 ml
Fish sauce 5 ml
Ajinomoto 4 gm
Sugar 8 gm
Warm water 50 ml

Method of preparation
• Boil the cuttle fish and cool in cold water.
• Now, in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients one by one, mixing gently with a spoon.
• Add the cuttle fish and gently toss so as to mix well.
• Serve cold.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cuisine:  Sichuan

Where to try it:
The Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi isn’t the only five-star that does a mean Oriental Salad. Here are five other metro choices.

TK’s Oriental Grill at The Hyatt
served Vietnamese style
The salad: Tenderloin Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Chilli Vinegar
Wok’s at Intercontinental,
The Grand
The salad: The Grass Noodle Salad

China House at The Grand Hyatt
The salad:
Steamed Spinach with Mustard Sesame Sauce
Spices at JW Marriott
The salad: Yum Neua (Beef salad)

Zen at the Leela Palace
The salad: Som Pum Talay (Green papaya salad with seafood)

Blue Ginger at The Taj West End
The salad: The Lotus Stem Salad

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