Saturday, February 10, 2007

From Russia, with Love - Beet and Pineapple Salads

I colleague and friend of mine (O) is Russian and through her I have tasted some really great unusual Russian dishes. Of course, there is a lot in Russian food that I can not eat and O's constant nag is that she does not know what to cook for me since I dont eat meat! However she herself says that this pushes her to be a little more adventurous and out-of-the-box..........yeah, vegetarians!

Last Fall, O and her husband invited us to their home for a lovely dinner. I fell in love with these two salads to go along with Borcht. Both are super-simple and super-quick to make. Also, they dont require any "special" no planning required -- always a plus point to me!

I introduced my parents to Russian food this time and it was a huge success. They were demanding Borcht pretty much every evening. Of course, beets were in season in India and so it was an ideal soup for cold, winter nights. But for sunny winter days, the salads were in great demand too. So much so that I made them for the 50-60 people lunch party (which eventually became a 90-100 people party!). Again, huge success for very little effort. These pictures are from India.....hence the huge quantities. However, I have scaled down the quantities in the recipes.

O's Beet-Pickle Salad


Beets 1 cup, chopped into small squares
Carrots 1 cup , chopped into small squares
Dill pickle 1/2 cup, chopped (I used the normal, bottled variety)
Garlic 6-7 cloves, grated/pressed finely
Olive oil 1 tsp (dont remember if O adds it or not. I prefer to add)
Corriander leaves chopped, handful
Cheese for garnish (optional)
A twist of lemon juice (optional)

1. Steam the chopped beets and carrots till tender-to-your-taste.
2. Mix everything and garnish.

It is THAT simple and immensely tasty.

O's Pineapple Salad


Pineapple 1 tin (this turns out to be one of the dishes where tinned is actually better than fresh)
Sour cream 1/4 cup (I substituted home-made yogurt in India)
Cream 1/4 cup (optional, can be tried with milk too)
Garlic 4-5 cloves finely pressed
Cheese 1/2 cup (any kind that grates easily) grated not-too-finely
Salt to taste

1. Do not drain all the syrup from the tinned pineapple. Take out the rings and chop into desired size pieces.
2. Mix the sour cream, cream, garlic, salt. Make sure fully incorporated.
3. Put in the grated cheese and pineapple peices. You can add some of the syrup from the tin until you reach the sweetness level that you like. I would suggest that you dont make it too sweet.

The slight tartness of the pineapple, the sweet from the syrup, the punch of garlic....its a whole bunch of flavors packed into a really simple salad.

At O's place, we had the most scrumptious dessert! Hows this for Russian candy?!


This is O's daughter, Z -- the most adorable scamp ever!


Asha said...

Beautiful kids!!

They are unusual indeed,specially the Pineapple one.Great for summer!:)

Anonymous said...

Lovely Salad!!!! I am a big fan of pineapple..... surely gonna try that one. :)

Anonymous said...

Iam seeing your post after a long time. Both the salads are novel to me.I mean never thought of pineapple garlic combi. Even the beet salad is new . They are worth giving it a try:)