Little Gem Salad with Buttermilk Chaas
Photo by Marcus Nilsson
Chaas is an Indian buttermilk beverage, but “it’s much better as a salad dressing than a post-basketball drink,” says Vivek Surti, the chef at Tailor in Nashville. “It’s buttermilk seasoned with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chiles. I drizzle it over a mix of greens and whatever I’m into—tomatoes, beets, nuts.” Mix it up to make it your own. But don’t start to heat the oil until all of the chaas seasonings are measured out and close at hand; blooming the spices goes quickly.
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- 8 servings
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 5 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed, seeds removed if desired
- 4 curry leaves
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- ½ tsp. brown mustard seeds
- Kosher salt
- Salad and assembly:
- 1 bunch red and/or French Breakfast radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
- 3 heads of Little Gem lettuce, torn crosswise into 2"-wide strips
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- ½ cup fresh English peas, sugar snap peas, and/or 1½"-long pieces green and/or wax beans
- 1 sprig mint, leaves torn
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt (optional)
- Pour buttermilk into a measuring glass or small bowl. Heat oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add chiles, curry leaves, cumin seeds, and brown mustard seeds one at a time, pausing for a second between each addition and swirling pan. Cook until spices are toasted and curry leaves sizzle and pop, about 10 seconds (take care as oil will splatter!). Quickly pour spice oil into buttermilk; stir to combine. Taste chaas dressing and season with salt.
- Do Ahead: Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
- Salad and assembly:
- Soak radishes in a bowl of ice water until they curl, about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- Toss half of the radishes in a large bowl with lettuce, cucumber, peas, mint, and cilantro. Drizzle in dressing; toss to coat. Taste salad and season with salt if needed. Top with remaining radishes.
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