Bell Pepper & Grape Salad

The month of March is here already and I am trying to figure out the number of things that I have done in the past two months that were part of my To-Do list for the 2012. It doesn't look I have accomplished much. Nevertheless, its a month where we welcome the Indian summers that are fast approaching. The vegetable and fruit markets are already bursting with colours and flavours of the season. My regular fruit vendor asked me if I wanted a dozen mangoes for Rs.4000. I was flabbergasted and said that I was definitely planning to live for another few months at least and would prefer to eat them at a reasonable price. I was in no hurry, thank you very much!

Now that strawberries have slowly made their exit and mangoes belong to the future, grapes are basking in the limelight. Its black and green grapes for you this season. Grapes, grapes & grapes everywhere. At the fruit stall in the market or at the supermarket or on push carts, piles and piles of grapes try to entice you into buying them and enjoying them at leisure. This is the scene in my house since the past 10 days. Both the boys sit with their bowls full of grapes while I wonder what to make out of them. Last year I made some grape wine out of the abundant black grapes that were being sold dirt cheap. I quite enjoyed that process especially because it was my first time at making home made wine. This year, I toyed with the idea of making grape jam or some compote perhaps. But sweet things have no takers at home, so I chucked that idea. I came across this very refreshing salad at a dinner party last week - a get together at hubby's cousin's place and I was bowled over by the myriad flavours. While the dominant ingredient in this salad is bell peppers in various colours, its the grapes that tickle your taste buds. It was simply fantastic - trying to figure out the different ingredients by tasting them. 

This multi coloured salad is something that makes for a lovely item on your party menu and is great as an everyday meal option too. I say meal option because when I was on a diet long ago, my nutritionist used to bug me daily to have loads of salads. Not being much of a cold food eater - I simply hated salads after a month of eating them. My diet plan did not revolve around replacing all meals with salads - if that's the impression you've got! Heck, no! Lunch and dinner always began with a bowl of salad and proceeded with whatever I was asked to eat (almost everything on a Mangalorean's wish list was included). Simple and easy. However, I cried and made a fuss during every appointment. I begged for anything but a salad and so the poor thing replaced salads with soups. I was happy for a while because I love having piping hot soups. I was happy until I started to run out of ideas to make soups :-( Anyway, one day she browsed through my blog only to find no salad recipes. I promised her that I would some day post something provided I found a recipe that was compelling enough to be tried at home. I did and I thank Nellie, hubby's cousin who generously gave me her recipe.

Bell peppers are popularly known as capsicums (shimla mirch in Hindi) in India. Till about a couple of decades ago I was familiar with only the green capsicum which was either eaten in the form of deep fried pakoras, or stuffed with a filling or in the preparation of Indo-Chinese dishes. Today the other two vibrant colours - the red & yellow capsicum have found their way into a dozen new dishes like dips, salads, soups & pizzas. Bell peppers are so called because of their bell shape and besides the red, green & yellow colours they come in many different colours including orange, purple, brown & even black! They vary in taste from spicy to sweet, to tangy. It is said that the red bell peppers offer the most health benefits compared to the green ones. Bell peppers are said to be a dieter's favourite vegetable as they are low cal, low fat, high fibre & a fat burning food. They are packed with vitamins A and C and contain significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6 which help fight against heart disease.

Grapes on the other hand have the ability to treat indigestion, constipation, fatigue, kidney disorders and help in the prevention of cataract, breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Grapes are one of the richest sources of vitamins A, C, B6 and folate in addition to essential minerals. They contain flavonoids that are very powerful antioxidants which in simple terms prevent free radicals that speed up aging process. 

One reason why I chose to post this recipe sooner than the pile of recipes in draft is because there are two occasions that fall in the month of March. 'Holi' the festival of colours that is celebrated all over India coincides with the International Women's Day this year on March 8th. I couldn't think of a better dish that could do justice to these occasions. This month I celebrate womanhood with something so colourful, simple, flavourful and healthy. 

Bell Pepper & Grape Salad
Preparation time: 15min | Serves 3-4

You Need:
1. Dice the bell peppers, chop the cucumber and cut the grapes vertically into 8 pieces or as desired
2. Mix all the ingredients in a wide bowl and add the dressing - salt, pepper, olive oil, lime juice & chaat masala just before serving.

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