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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Summer Food Part 1

Well, hello.

It is 32 degrees outside.  Apparently this year Spring never sprung and instead, we hopped and skipped our way merrily straight to summer. I hear it is hotter today in London than it is in Bangalore.  And I don’t know if I like it, to be honest.  It’s just exhausting to be outside. Which is SO weird a thing to say for a sun-worshipper like me. Especially in London where it rains, on average, oh - 365/365.

Yes, yes. I’m cancelling out the days where it rains 5x a day with the days like today when it doesn’t rain at all. That’s how I calculate averages. (Maths, as you know, is not my forte).

But cooking is :) And I’d much rather have it that way, thank you very much!

So, anyway, the bigger problem, of course is that it’s too hot to eat. Which is the diametric opposite problem to the one I face when it’s cold outside. Then of course I want to eat all the time. I’m not sure which one’s the bigger problem.

I’d like to say I have no problem with eating all the time, except that I think it’s about time I lost some of that baby belly that’s stubbornly refusing to leave me, much in the manner of a spawned unyielding lover. Not that I’ve ever had a spawned, unyielding lover, mind you. I speak metaphorically.

But yes, 9 months and counting. And still no sign of reversion to concavity. Sigh. Should I keep the faith or resign myself to the sad truth that a flat stomach may remain the sole prerogative of the young and the rested??

But, my soon-to-be-a-mommy freinds out there: Worry not, smile bravely and wave the flag of mommyhood up high, for even if it's true (and I join you in hoping it's not), it's a small price to pay. What’s a little convexity in return for a living, squiggling, cuddling, bundle of joy-toy of your very own? Worth every bit, I promise you. Verily so.

But – I digress.

So what does one do when it’s most definitely too hot to cook and bordering (dangerously) on being too hot to eat?  OK, it’s technically never too hot to eat, but you get my general drift. The only things that are working for me today are cooling citrusy things like lemons and melons and oranges and things.

So I drag a reluctant baby (yes, the one I traded in for a flat stomach) – who’d MUCH rather be watching Wimbledon in the aircon, thank you very much – to Waitrose. Thankfully it’s only a five minute walk away. The sun is blazing down on pram-and-self, the heat is rising from the sidewalk, and I swear I can see smoke coming out of the metal surfaces of parked cars. I stay away from them, lest they come alive and eat me.

I almost run into the air conditioned store. Aaah...the cool blast of the AC hits me squarely on my face. This is heaven. Reluctant baby has stopped whining. Which is also heaven. I wouldn’t mind laying out a picnic rug and settling down here today, in the aisle between the frozen foods. Very tempting, that proposition, on a day like this.

As I pick up a shopping basket, I notice the demo-sample station lady is demoing soup.
Soup?!
Guess the person who made that decision didn’t check the weather. Either that, or he/she lives in the air conditioned splendour of Waitrose. Lucky bugger/ess.
Anyway, the demo-sample station lady is standing there, apron, gloves and all, with forty untouched cups of soup all laid out in neat rows in front of her, and a rather forlorn expression on her face.
On any other day, lady, I’d have helped her out (I'm nice like that)...but today, even the mere thought of soup is making my pulse quicken. And it's not from excitement. So, I give her a sympathetic look and rush past to the fresh vegetable aisle. Everything looks fresh and cool and crisp and refreshing. And just lovely. Here’s what I buy:

For my salad: 
- 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
- 1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
- 2 carrots, shredded
- Handful of snow peas
- 1/4 cup spring onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 orange, segmented
- 2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded by hand (optional)

For my dressing:
-  2 tbsp sesame oil
-  2 tbsp soy sauce
-  1/4 cup rice vinegar
-  2 tbsp honey
-  Pinch red pepper flakes
-  Salt & white pepper to taste

To make the dressing, simply combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until everything is well mixed.

Meanwhile, add romaine and cabbage in a large bowl before tossing in the spring onion, snow peas, carrots, oranges (and chicken, if you are using any). Pour dressing over the salad and toss well to coat. Add in cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. 

This is a salad I love. Love! It’s crispy, and crunchy, and spicy, and sweet, and savoury. And COOLING!

For the rare London day when it’s too hot to eat. Well, almost!

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