14 August, 2014
Mango and Soya Chunk Summer salad
I was skimming the pages of the latest Conde nast Traveler that I carried with me. We had a short break to the Canadian rockies for a couple days. As I lifted my face and looked at the mountains in front of me I soon realised this is not the place to bury my face in the magazine. Adjusting myself in the deep seats of the Adirondack chair, I shifted my gaze in front. Standing majestically were the Mountain range.
Although it was early August, some of the peaks were still snow capped. That wasn’t the case when the mountains started their life though, few million years ago, a blink of an eye in geological years. For a brief moment I was transported to that day. The tectonic plates shifting and grinding against each other, finally one plate rising above the other giving birth to what we see today. It was beyond my imagination as to what it must have sounded like. How searing high was the temperature? It boggled my mind.
I was brought back to the present by a familiar sound. The fresh mountain air on the face had lulled my husband to sleep He was snoring comfortably with an open book on his lap and arms languishing on the long armrests.. The water in the lake at the foot of the mountains was as clear as a mirror. As the sun rose higher up in the sky the colour of the water changed. It felt like someone had sprinkled glitter in the water. It shimmered.
Sitting there that day I felt dwarfed by the surroundings. The ” I “, ” Me “, ” Mine ” didn’t seem to have any meaning. I was put in my place in this universe. A tiny speck in the galaxy. However my soul felt in sync with the all encompassing surroundings.
The rocky sidewalks were home to some beautiful flora. At times small white flowers covered them while in other places the Indian Paintbrush ( Castilleja miniata ) was in bloom. Their reddish orange blossom against the ash coloured rocks was a painter’s inspiration.
On our way back we were held up by a family of Bighorn sheep. They had a family outing, the young calves under the sharp eyes of the elders. Unaware of the half mile long traffic gridlock waiting on either side of the road, or the constant clicks of cameras from the lucky visitors, they took their time crossing the road.
We enjoyed a fresh salad in one of the quaint cafes nestled by the lake. I tried to recreate the same in my kitchen today with minor changes.
Ripe mangoes skinned and chopped small Two
Skinned and finely chopped Cucumber One medium
Soya Chunks Half cup
Red onion chopped fine One and half tsps
Roasted and roughly ground Peanuts Two tsps
Olive oil One Tbsp
Lemon juice One tsp
Salt To taste
Roasted ground cumin seeds One tsp
Mint leaves A few
Soak the Soya chunks in a bowl with boiling hot water. Cover and let it sit for ten minutes. Drain the water and chop them in half.
In a bowl assemble the mango, cucumber, soya chunks and red onion pieces.
Throw in the peanut pieces, drizzle the garnish. Give a good stir. Add the garnish.
All measurements are to my taste, it can be altered to suit yours.
Soya chunks are available in Indian grocery store as Nutri Nuggets. It is considered vegetarian meat. The chewy texture imparts a similar taste and can even be substituted in any recipe calling for meat. They are high in protein.
The mangos were quite sweet. A bit of honey can be added to the dressing if it is tart.