There is no sign of rain. The summer is marching on with blue skies, bursts of puffy clouds and the mercury reading in triple digits. On one such afternoon, while I waited in the car for my girl to come out of the school, the idea of this salad was born. The salad that captures the beauty of summer, with the aroma of fire roasted corn, fresh tomatoes, mint and the heady, spicy flavor of chaat masala.
Every day while I wait in the car in front of the school, I either read or I plan or just lose myself in my thoughts. This is my alone time. I plan what I am going to make for next day’s lunch. I plan on what errands I need to run. I make lists and tuck them in the coin tray of my car. But what I love doing the most is running away with my thoughts. The late afternoon sun streamed down on my arms and my face through the window of my car, and I wanted the rain to come swishing down. Just like the monsoon rains back in India. It heralded with dark looming skies and the wind the picked up so fast that it was tough to race with it. If I was playing with my friends, we would find papers which we tore up in tiny pieces and let them out in the wind, seeing them flutter, kick and dance in the air. And then we would hasten in for shelter. This was our favorite thing to do. If we would be at home, we would all be running, trying to shut the window panes which banged open and shut playing with the wind. The rain would come down soon, heavy, uncontrolled, blinding and hushing everything around. There galloped in the Relief in the heat, in its glistening armor.
I could only wish. There would be no rain. The heat continues with no relief. The only armor are the sunscreen and the air condition.
My girl walked out with her backpack hung on her shoulders, her hair loosened from her braids framing her tired face. As she fastens her seat belt, she chirps fast and sweet, her entire days happenings cascading down quickly; as if there would be a lost ripple if she did not say it all right away. By the time we drove into the garage, I already know what all she did at school. I also know that I should soon go and get the modeling clay that Ms. Adams uses. Maybe I “should email her and find out what kind she uses”. I assure her I will.
While I had waited dreaming of the rain, I suddenly could smell the roasted corn so typical of the Indian monsoon. Such are the strong ties of memories. Thoughts translating into tangible senses… a whiff, a sudden craving. When we got back home, I made this for her to snack on.
Just like any other salad, there are no binding rules to what to use and how much. I will only write what I did. A lot more can be built from the basic recipe. Use whatever else you want. The chaat masala and the sev (crispy chickpea flour noodles) add the typical Indian flavors to it, making it that lip smacking kind of snack that one craves on a rainy day. Or maybe even on a bright summer day.
This makes a fabulous lunch box recipe, healthy, filling and nutritious.
The flavors brim with vivacious spicy, crunchy and tart with the refreshing mint and lemon. It is really an anytime snack.
Roasted Corn and Peanut Chaat/Indian Salad
Ingredients: (serves 2-4)
- 2 whole corn, husked
- 3/4 cup raw peanuts, shelled
- 2 tablespoon chopped red onion
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped/sliced tomato
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint leaves, finely chopped in ribbons
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped in ribbons
- 1 small green chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala (homemade or store bought)
- salt (adjust as the Chaat Masala as salt)
- 1/2 Sev (Crispy Indian and Spiced Chickpea Noodles, available in Indian groceries)
- a drizzle of fresh lemon juice
- Optional – a couple of teaspoons of Mint and Coriander Chutney or Green Mango and Mint Chutney
Heat a gas grill to high or set the gas stove to high. Husk the corn and place it directly over the fire to grill. Turn frequently, until corn is charred and heated through, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a large bowl.
If you have to use frozen corn kernels: Heat a cast iron pan over high heat. Place frozen corn in a single layer of frozen on the pan. Once the water dries off the kernels will start to brown. Once the corn has browned on one side, stir and toss and so the kernels brown evenly. Remove to cool.
The corn can be made a few hours ahead and stored.
If the peanuts still have the husk on them, they can be removed after roasting them. Heat a skillet and place the peanuts in a single layer. Allow then to start browning and then toss them around to roast them with brown spots all over. Remove from heat and cool completely. If they are with husks, place them in a kitchen towel, fold the towel over them and rub them to release the skin. Separate the nuts. It really helps to buy peanuts which are already shelled and husked. When the nuts are cooled, Place them in a bag or a tray and crush them with a rolling pin. They should be coarsely broken. Set aside.
Combine corn and all other ingredients, other than the peanuts, sev and lemon juice. Toss well and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. This can be made a few hours ahead. When ready to serve add the peanuts, sev, a drizzle of lemon juice. Adjust salt and chaat masala. If you are using the any of the chutneys, add it now and toss well.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
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