SERVES 2– 4
Interestingly, the Mughals were not well known for serving elaborate or inventive summery salads at their tables. In contrast, Persian meals often begin with
a platter of sabzi khordan, a selection of fresh herbs, walnuts and feta served in generous handfuls.
Tue Mughal emperors were, of course, heavily influenced by Persian culture and borrowed many Persian traits and customs as well as their recipes. This salad uses some of the ingredients found in sabzi khordan and serves them in a new and unexpected way. There is something deeply satisfying about the soft blandness of labneh against sweet grapes and crunchy bitter walnuts – a match made in heaven.
- 200g purple or red grapes (e.g. Muscat)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 60g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Handful of rocket leaves
- Handful of fresh tarragon
- Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 6- 8 radishes, quartered
- 200g labneh (see Note)
- Handful of pomegranate seeds
- Sea salt, to taste
Mix the grapes with the honey, chilli flakes and a tiny pinch of salt in a small pan. Place over a low heat just until they have warmed through and have a sticky outer glaze but still hold their shape. Keep the sticky grapes to one side.
Heat the vegetable oil in a small frying pan and add the chopped walnuts and a little salt. Toast over a low heat until they have browned all over – be careful to not let them burn.
Make a dressing by whisking together the tamarind pulp and olive oil with a pinch of salt. Toss the rocket leaves, tarragon, parsley and radishes in the salad dressing.
Rub a few drops of oil onto your hands and shape the labneh into small balls; if your labneh is too soft to shape, don’t worry! You can just as easily use a teaspoon to place small rounds onto the finished salad platter.
To assemble the salad, place the labneh balls, honey-glazed grapes and toasted walnuts over the dressed leaves and radishes. Garnish with a handful of pomegranate seeds before serving.
Note To make labneh from scratch, hang 500gfulljat Creek yoghurt in a muslin cloth or clean J-cloth suspended over a bowl for 24 hours in the fridge. The consistency should be that of soft cheese, which can be shaped into small bite-sized balls.