Friday, 17 August 2012

Chilled Watermelon 'Chaat' Salad

Watermelon 'Chaat' Salad

No other fruit in the world is as reminiscent of summer, as watermelon. One of my enduring memories from home in India, is the abundance of watermelon, which my mum would sit and carefully cut into little cubes for us, and we would devour it. It was the perfect heat buster, and watermelon juice was a perennial favourite of ours, and widely available on the streets of India. 

When the National Watermelon Promotion Board asked me if I would take part in their Kid-tastic Watermelon Blogger Challenge, Aditi and I of course, were all for it. Not only is watermelon one of Aditi's favourite fruits, but it is an amazingly versatile one at that. We've eaten it straight up, had it in classic salads with feta cheese and mint, made it into yummy watermelon ice candies, made sorbets and ice creams, granitas and daiquiris. 

When our blogging kit arrived, Aditi was delighted to find that it included her very own apron... which she then insisted on wearing constantly around the house. Before I knew it, the watermelon that came with the kit had also been gobbled up by the houseful of kids I was hosting... which meant that I had to head out double quick to find another one with which to make my recipe.

This is my last pose for you, mum.

In order to make this watermelon recipe, I looked to a street snack that I used to have as a kid in India called 'fruit chaat' to create a salad that has a unique tasty twist to it. I mean, the challenge was to create a 'kid-tastic' recipe... and I was a kid once too, hey? And I loved, loved, loved watermelon. Plus I wanted Aditi to try out some of the street food I grew up eating. 

So this recipe was born. The (not-so) secret ingredient in this salad is a spice mix called 'chaat masala', a spicy-salty-tangy mix of spices that is used in a lot of Indian street foods.

Chaat masala is easily available at any large supermarket here that has a decent Asian section. Superstore has it, as does Save-On-Foods. If you can't find it there, you will almost certainly find it in any ethnic grocery. And if you are a 'everything from scratch' person like I ocasionally can be, by all means, you can make your own. But I also love the convenience of being able to get it already premade. The brand I like is Everest Chaat Masala, but others are just as good.

Of course, the star of the show here is the beautifully chilled, perfectly cubed watermelon (you can also go rustic and chop the watermelon and everything else into chunks). I also used English cucumber to add an extra layer of freshness to this salad. It was summery and fresh, but also very unique and the flavours were unbeatable. It was sweet and salty, gently spicy, tangy with a light hint of citrus, fresh and cool all at the same time. The cilantro brought together the entire salad with its clean, herby taste.

The whole family, including my cousin who is visiting from India, loved this salad. The colours were stunning, and this is a salad that is well on its way to being our favourite treat. It adds an exotic aspect to a simple barbeque supper, as well as being able to grace an elegant dinner party with its beautiful, punchy flavours.

Best of all, it really brought back all those lovely childhood memories of fruit chaats on the beach, the sun shining, the azure blue waves of the Arabian Sea crashing on the beautiful soft sand, the smell of fresh spice and salt in the air, and the laughter of friends and family as we all enjoyed our days out and holidays. And really, that's what food should be all about!

Watermelon 6

Recipe: 
(Printable Recipe)  

Serves 4 as a side salad 

4 cups watermelon cubes, chilled
1 long English cucumber, cubed
1 mango, peeled, stoned and cubed (optional) 
1 small red onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
¾ - 1 teaspoon chaat masala 
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of sugar
A large handful fresh cilantro, chopped 

Method:

Combine the cubed watermelon, cucumber, mango and red onion in a large bowl.

Stir in the fresh lemon or lime juice, tossing gently to coat well.

Sprinkle over the chaat masala. Taste and season with a pinch of salt and sugar to balance the flavours. 

Garnish with lots of fresh cilantro, and serve immediately. 

Aditi loves her watermelon.

15 comments:

  1. Aditi is A-DOR-A-BLE!!!!
    Such a sweetheart and love the little apron they sent for her!
    :)
    V

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    1. Thanks Valerie. She does love that apron, and wears it all the time, especially when she's helping me around the kitchen.

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  2. Delicious and summery. I almost bought a watermelon today but I decided to get mangoes instead because the watermelon was just too heavy to carry. Obviously, I really want some watermelon now. Lovely pictures - if I'd been sent that apron, then I'd insist on wearing constantly too.

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    1. LOL, Phil, you've just hit on the reason I don't buy large watermelons, I don't have a car and they are pretty heavy to haul home. Especially if I have other groceries too. But I always buy the little ones, and they are easy to store too :)

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  3. Mmmm. That looks lovely and refreshing. You've just convinced me to get off my lazy butt and crack open the watermelon in my fridge!

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    1. Thanks Melissa. I love the sweet-salty-spicy combination, its probably the Indian in me. Go eat your watermelon, its really good for you too :)

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  4. I'm totally sold on this salad. I first saw the photo and thought "hmm I don't think I'd like a savory watermelon salad" but after reading your post I can't wait to give it a try. You really have a way with words ;)

    and your daughter is *such* a cutie

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    1. Thanks Stephanie. The whole sweet/ savoury thing is really huge in India, and almost every street snack has that element to it. And weirdly, this is a combination that really works.

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  5. Aditi! Aditi! Aditi!

    The salad is refreshing too!

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    1. Haha, thanks Manasi. She's my little star, for sure :)

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  6. What a lovely salad! I <3 watermelons and this super awesome

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    1. Thanks Hooney. Watermelons are pretty versatile.

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  7. Chat masala makes everything better! So good on bananas with a dash of lime juice!
    Aditi is looking lovely in that apron of hers!

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    1. Ooh, Anita, I am going to have to try that now... as it turns out I have a ton of bananas that need eating.

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  8. Watermelons are flavorful, delicious summer fruits with many health giving properties.

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