Friday, January 20, 2012

Love At First Bite

Russian Salad

The first time I came across this salad was at a friend's house more than three decades ago in Mangalore. I was rather apprehensive on seeing it as I had never eaten anything like it before. It was full of vegetables, tinned sardines, cut fruit and held together with mayonnaise, something quite unknown to me. Fell in love with the first bite and ever since have served it on many occasions in different ways. Russian Salad or Salad Olivier, of Russian origin consists of boiled pieces of meat, vegetables and cubed potatoes held together with mayonnaise. It was first served in 1860 by a Russian Chef named Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow's most celebrated restaurants. Olivier's salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant's signature dish and a jealously guarded secret. Somehow the contents of the recipe leaked and today there are many versions of it. You can make it with anything or everything you have in your refrigerator. It could be as simple or as extravagant as you like. Fall in love, like I did and reveal your personality through the delectable Russian Salad.

The Recipe

2 Boiled potatoes, peeled and cubed; 2 green apples, cored and cubed; 1 cup boiled chicken, shredded; 1 cup mixed vegetables like peas, cauliflower, french beans, carrots and broccoli; 1 cup grapes, deseeded; 1 orange, segmented; 1 pomegranate, seeds only for garnish; a bag of mixed lettuce leave, torn roughly; 1/4 cup cream; 1/4 cup mayonnaise; 1/2 cup curds; salt, sugar & pepper to taste.

Place vegetables, fruit(except the pomegranate), lettuce leaves and chicken in a large serving dish. Beat the mayonnaise, cream, curds, sugar, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over the contents in serving dish. Gently toss, to coat all the contents. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds, refrigerate and serve cold. The best part about this dish is that it can be made in large quantities (to serve hordes) and is a meal in itself. Eat plain or with bread or as a side dish. It's your choice.

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