Last night my mom came over for dinner. She’s here in India for some time, and it’s really great to have her around, especially after not seeing her for five months. Hrishikesh was out at a golf event so it was just my mom, me, and a big bowl of coleslaw on the table. I never made a coleslaw before I moved to Bombay, but since it’s a lot easier to get cabbage here than it is to get lettuce, I now make it instead of salad whenever I want to eat something raw and fresh.
I’m a bit afraid of mayonnaise, at least the store bought kind, and I haven’t yet tried making my own. Something about the glossy off-white substance is…unsettling. So I make my coleslaw dressing with strained yogurt, which I find far more reassuring, generally and also, nutritionally. Tied up yogurt, slowly drip-dripping water for a couple hours, is preferable over the jar of Kraft’s mayonnaise in our fridge. You can add the water from the yogurt in soups- it has a nice sour edge, and it’s full of protein. And using strained yogurt, which is wonderfully creamy and thick, makes the coleslaw a fantastically healthy dinner.
In my coleslaws I like to add a handful of dried cranberries or cherries for a bite of tangy sweetness amidst the creamy, salty dressing, and sometimes I sprinkle ground almonds on top of a dressed bowl, to give the salad a little more body. The yogurt dressing is mustardy with nice floral notes from the celery seeds, and just the slightest bit sweet, but definitely not sweet and gross the way I imagine pre-packaged coleslaws to be.
Coleslaw with Strained Yogurt Dressing
1 small head green cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 head of red cabbage, finely chopped
4 carrots, grated
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped or whirred through the mixer (optional)
Mix the first five ingredients together in a large bowl; keep the almonds separate. When ready to eat, add in the dressing and mix well; sprinkle each individual serving with chopped/roughly ground almonds.
Strained Yogurt Dressing
1 1/4 cup strained yogurt
1 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. celery seed
celery salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
4 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. powdered mustard
2 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
Strain the yogurt by tying it in a cheesecloth, and tying that cheesecloth onto a cabinet handle, for instance, with a small pot underneath to catch the water dripping out. Let it sit, dripping, for at least an hour and a half, but longer is always better.
Empty yogurt into a bowl, and stir in the Dijon mustard, celery seed, dry mustard, sugar, vinegar, celery salt, and pepper, to taste. Then, while mixing, add the olive oil. When you’re ready to eat, add the dressing to the salad and mix it well, making sure that each cabbage and carrot strand is coated with dressing.