A Wicked Tamarind and Lime Dressing and a Thai Betel Leaf Salad

A wicked, wicked salad.

Betel Leaf Salad with Tamarind Lime Dressing | A Life (Time) of Cooking |Thai Recipes | Vegetarian

I remember my first trip to India, travelling the back-roads of Goa with a gorgeous Indian tourist guide for the day. He pointed out some betel nuts drying on the sides of the roads. In all of my naivety, I said to him “Don’t betel nuts make you go funny?” With a sage wiggle of his head, he replied “My dear, there are many things in India that make you go funny.”

How right he is, and not all of them in the hallucinogenic way.

Actually, betel leaves have many uses in India and beyond. Some of them spiritual, some of them artistic, some of them culinary.Β  Today’s use is in a salad, and it is not Indian, but Thai, with the telltale flavours of sour, sweet and hot melded perfectly together.

I have heard that Betel Leaves are not from the same plant as Betel Nuts, but rather a plant closely related to pepper. They can be eaten raw, and are often used as a wrapping for food in India and Thailand.

You might also want to try Miso Sesame Dressing, Steamed Thai Eggplant and Zucchini, Steamed Eggplant with Sesame and Soy, and Ottoleghi’s Steamed Eggplant and Soy Dish.

Our Thai dishes are here, and our Salads here. Be inspired by our Summer dishes here and here.

However, the salad is not dependent on the use of betel leaves. Just replace them with some lettuce leaves of any sort, and the salad will still be gorgeous. It is the dressing that is absolutely stunning in this salad.

Betel Leaf Salad with Tamarind Lime Dressing | A Life (Time) of Cooking |Thai Recipes | Vegetarian


Thai Betel Leaf Salad with Tamarind Lime Dressing

Inspired by a recipe from importfood.com
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 0 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it, but I can eat the whole bowl myself

Up to 2 cups of betel leaves – in my part of the world they are expensive, so I had less than a cup of leaves. Just use what you can get. Alternatively use any lettuce – crispy cos or iceberg lettuce or any soft leaf lettuce.
1 cup shredded carrots
small 1/2 cup Mung Sprouts
1 capsicum that has been grilled and the skin removed (optional)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped, or use Thai Basil or Vietnamese Mint
1 or more Thai red chillies (to taste), chopped finely
1 – 2 Tblspn unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped or crushed

2 tspn tamarind concentrate
5 tspns water
1/2 Tblspn fresh lime juice
1 Tblspn light soy sauce – use tamari or shoyu
1 Tblspn jaggery, best grated

Make the dressing by putting all ingredients in a bowl and mixing well till smooth. Taste, and adjust the sour and sweetness of it by adding more of any ingredient as required. It needs to be more tamarind flavoured than lime flavoured for this salad.

If the betel leaves are a little tough, blanch them quickly in some almost boiling water. This will soften them. Dry well with paper towel.

Leave the betel leaves whole, or shred them. Put them in the middle of a salad bowl, and place the chopped red pepper and grated carrots on top. Spoon over about half of the dressing.

Top the carrots with the spouts, mint, chillies and peanuts. Spoon over the remainder of the dressing.



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Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

16 thoughts on “A Wicked Tamarind and Lime Dressing and a Thai Betel Leaf Salad”

  1. We don’t cook with betel leaves, or at least its not served at the table so this comes as a nice surprise. Must try it. I have a betel vne growing outside. πŸ™‚

  2. I had betel in Malaysia- people would chew it after dinner. It made my mouth go numb and stimulated the salivary glands…a very unique experience! Never thought about cooking with it though!

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