Yesterday my mum looked through my last posts in the blog and said: “Wow! That looks so beautiful! But what about the taste?” I was a bit taken aback. Seriously, I don’t think she has any grounds for being skeptical about this issue since I cooked a lot of different things when I stayed at my parents’ place during the vocation and none of them had said a critical word about my food – only the praising ones. Besides, I don’t think it is ethically right to write a post about a dish that turned out to be a failure, even if it looks picture perfect. I guess now you are wondering: “How does it all refer to the watermelon salad?!” Well, this salad was not a failure but, to say true, I didn’t find it to be a “wow-dish” and thus started to consider whether I should put a post about it in the blog.
The recipe is by an Indian Chef Floyd Cardoz who won previous year’s Top Chef Masters show. The salad, as he explained, was his take on watermelon chaat. I changed it slightly by omitting that chaat masala that basically gives this continental-looking dish an Indian flavour: for me black pepper and ginger was more than enough for providing the heat. Actually the aroma of coriander and mint and the traditional combination of sweetness coming from the melon, sourness from the lime and saltiness from the capers reminded me more of Thai cuisine. Strange as it may sound, I’m a big fan of Thai cuisine and I absolutely adore watermelon, radish and rocket leaves but for me the whole dish didn’t seem to be balanced and impressive.
After a thorough consideration of the whole situation I eventually decided to write about this salad. It was not a complete failure after all and the fact that I didn’t like the dish doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who may do. I for one wouldn’t go for it again but – I’m sure – some gourmands will find it quite more-ish and will even appreciate a sprinkle of chaat masala on the top of it!
Recipe adapted from the original one by Floyd Cardoz (“BBC Good Food” magazine, November 2011)
6 watermelon disks, 2,5cm thick with 10cm diameter
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
½ cup rocket leaves
1 radish, sliced
2 tbsp peanuts, chopped
1 tbsp capers
salt and black pepper to taste
1. Make a dressing by combining lime juice, zest, ginger, black pepper and olive oil. Season the watermelon discs with salt and half of the above mix. Sprinkle half the mint and coriander leaves.
2. In a bowl, combine sliced radish, rocket leaves, peanuts and the remaining coriander and mint. Pour the dressing over and toss gently.
3. Place a 10cm round mould on the centre of a serving plate. Put a watermelon disc on the bottom of it, top with 1/3 of the salad mixture and cover with the second watermelon disc. Carefully remove the mould. Arrange 1 tsp of the capers on the top of the salad stack and around it. Repeat to make two more serves.