By Chef Tanya Petrovna
Native Foods Cafe
I missed a trip to India two years ago due to saving some sacred cows here in the U.S….rats! I was really happy to help save the cows don’t get me wrong, but I also wanted to see the rats at the Karni Mata temple at Deshnoke. It is here that people honor and feed the rats, and believe it or not, the rats spread no disease and never populate the city where the temple is situated, just the temple. Such a thing has never been heard of in human history.
I somehow have a connection with these rats, maybe because I am a rat in Chinese astrology. I somehow always cheer for the underdog and the underrat and the underpigeon. Pigeons also get a bad rap for being dirty, as do rats, but they are forced to live where the humans are (who the real cause of the unclean areas, such as big cities with concrete and no natural drainage and inefficient sewer systems).
You may ask how I can go from thinking of rats and sewer systems to create a menu item that is predicted to be the best selling salad of summer. Well thereby hangs a very long tail.
As I was thinking of India and all its history, the Ganges and Himalayas, the oldest texts and texts on medicine, yoga, astronomy, I then do what I always do and start thinking about food. In this case Indian food, my favorite part of Indian history and culture ! On my driving routes from the desert to OC and LA I have a little Indian street food place I like to stop at and get a nice cooling snacky salad item called Papri Chaat. Over the course of many quick stopovers and intimate oral dissections I would have mental conversations on how to rebuild this chaat with some more greens and veggies to give it “full meal” status.
So one day after doing yoga and standing on my head gazing downwardly at the stars, the Indian Summer Samosa Salad idea rushed in along with the O2 to the brain.
A whispered voice in my head got louder as it said in almost a mantra-like crescendo fashion “Crunchy samosa croutons, boiled potato, soft garbanzo beans, fresh cucumber and mango with a creamy coconut jalapeno chutney style dressing on a bed of crisp romaine. “ I thought maybe I’d call it the Samadi salad but didn’t get that far.
The moral of the story is do more yoga and eat Indian Summer Samosa Salads at Native Foods Cafe (in Chicago or Southern California) while planning your trip to the temple of Karni Mata.