I’ve traveled around the Far East quite a bit over recent years, and as you’d expect, it’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of spice. One of the most surprising dishes I came back with is this chili-spiked fruit salad. It makes a light, refreshing pudding, but I’ve developed a real taste for it first thing in the morning too. The secret is to make sure your fruit isn’t too ripe, so the salad stays crisp and tangy and gives a proper kick-start to your day.

1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 crunchy green apples, quartered, cored, and cut into bite-sized chunks

2 pears, not too ripe, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 mango, not overly ripe, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks


1½ tbsp tamarind paste

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2–3 tbsp palm or brown sugar

½–1 red chili, finely sliced, to taste

3 tbsp skinless unsalted peanuts

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. First make the dressing. Mix the tamarind paste, lime zest, and juice, sugar, and chili, then season with a little salt and pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

2. Toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan with a small pinch of salt until golden and toasted. Wrap the nuts in a clean tea towel and run a rolling pin over them to crush them.

3. Mix the crushed peanuts into the dressing. Taste and add a little more sugar and/or salt if needed.

4. Combine the fruits and cucumber in a serving bowl. Add half the dressing and toss well. Taste and add the remaining dressing if needed.


Tamarind’s tangy flavor makes it a very useful addition to salads, and it’s definitely worth tracking down a jar if you can. Adding a little extra lime juice can sometimes be a good substitute, though you may find the salad will lack a certain fruity sharpness. Tamarind paste can also be used in pad thai and Asian fish dishes, chicken curries, and my Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings.

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