Thai sesame garlic dressing with calamondin juice | a red cabbage salad and a ripe papaya salad with Thai sesame garlic dressing

A cabbage salad sounds unimpressive unless you have a killer dressing. This red cabbage salad with Thai sesame and garlic dressing blew my mind away. This salad is so good there is always a competition while eating from the same bowl. You must know it has been repeated a few times already.

Inspired by the Thai masterclass I made another Thai salad even though I have been having hot soups more in this season. A cold salad doesn't always feel right in winters but I experimented with a Thai dressing one day that turned out to be so good I used it up immediately with some red cabbages that I had in the fridge at that time. The Thai sesame and garlic dressing was supposed to be used for a salad for lunch the next day and I had kept a jar to fill and refrigerate but I took out cabbages and coriander greens instead, chopped them patiently and tossed the salad with the dressing being poured right out of the mixie jar. Some meal plans change like that. For the good.

My tiny Calamondin tree is giving me some fruits but Deeba had given me a bagful when we met last time. My tiny tree is loaded with small unripe calamondins but since I allow some Citrus Butterflies to breed on this tree, many fruits don't get to ripen and then the Bulbuls and Barbets come and pick them up, the ripe ones. Thank God I can get calamondins from friends.

The calamondin chilly marmalade that I had planned was not happening and I made the calamondin infused tea a few times and then I thought of using it's juice for a nutty salad dressing. This is one of the best salad dressings I have experimented with.

ingredients for the dressing 
Recipe inspired by this one
(makes about one cup, enough for 2-3 large servings)

sesame seeds (raw) 2 tbsp
calamondin juice 3 tbsp (from about 10 calamondins)
honey 1 tbsp
fresh red chillies chopped (preferably thai bird chillies) 2
garlic cloves 5
sesame oil (cold pressed) 1 tbsp
salt 3/4 tsp
light soy sauce 1 tsp
chopped lemongrass (white bulbous part) 1 tbsp

Blend everything smooth in mixie except the red chillies. Pulse once after adding the chillies so they just get macerated in the dressing and not completely blended. Add water and dilute to make it flowing consistency. Taste and adjust sweet-salt balance.

ingredients for the salad
(2 large servings)
finely chopped red cabbage 2 cups
finely chopped green cabbage 1 cup
chopped white parts of spring onions 1/3 cup
chopped coriander greens 1/2 cup
roasted chopped cashew nuts 2-3 tbsp


Mix all the chopped vegetables first. Pour the thick dressing paste over it and mix well again. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle with chopped roasted cashew and serve. This salad stays good for about 2 hours even after mixing so you can take it in lunch box or make it well ahead for a party too.

This salad is so good I finished half of it while just tossing it. And then felt guilty to finish a good thing all by myself and not sharing with the husband. But the good sense prevailed and I saved for him too. He loved it too, even suggested this could be a lunch box regular. I made a large batch of the dressing the next day and refrigerated to toss quick salads for his lunch box in the morning.

With some tender baby spinach plucked fresh from the garden, I can toss a salad with just anything if there is a good dressing on hand. Else I would admit I eat salads even without dressing if there are citrus fruits that lend their own zing to the salad once the salt is added.

The coriander greens are flowering now and packed with more aromatic oils. The flowering stalks of coriander make nice aromatic addition to any salad. I chopped some along with spinach and added to a papaya salad.

Ripe papaya salad with baby spinach, coriander greens and a couple of strawberries.

I made this ripe papaya salad with the same dressing and loved it so much I might eat papaya like this whenever they are not sweet enough. This was a papaya that turned out to be less sweet than we like and I was thinking of making a smoothie and gulp it down in one go. But now papayas will be consumed in a fancier way thanks the calamondins and the love for sesame. I added some mixed seeds to this papaya salad and loved it. Use any nuts or seeds you fancy.

Another salad I make with not so sweet papayas is here with pickled beet roots and that is another favourite. You know I would eat a large bowl of salad anytime.

You might like to add some arugula or lettuce instead of spinach and orange segments instead of strawberries, may be some pickled beets too but try and not let this salad stay for very long time as the enzymes of papaya start working on the sesame dressing and it looks curdled. Though the taste doesn't change much.

This sesame and garlic Thai salad dressing with calamondin juice and lemon grass definitely has strong citrus notes, but you do get the kick of the fresh red chillies, the sweetness of honey, nuttiness of sesame and the umami lend by the soy sauce. Imagine the flavours.

There is still a jar of this Thai sesame garlic dressing in the fridge, I might toss some sprouts and roasted peanuts in it next. A good thing must be used in a good way right?