Caprese Salad makes me happy. It transforms my mood the moment I allow the tomato mozzarella basil and olive oil to gently glide of the fork onto my excited tongue. I can feel the happiness in my cheeks with each bite and to soak up the remaining olive oil with some white crust bread is just the pinnacle of my blissful moment.
My picky husband was mesmerized too the moment he was introduced to it. He describes it as: “Very refreshing and the perfect lunch during summer time”. He also describes the tomato mozzarella and basil as a brilliant food marriage and the olive oil completes the dish. Sounds promising right?
But I had forgotten about this salad in recent times. With all the Indian food around me I tend to think more about the east. Also this is such a simple salad to recreate that I didn’t necessarily include it in my posting agenda here. You see I realize at times that what might be ordinary and common to me might be a completely new dish to somebody else in this world.
In India you can get hold of fresh mozzarella and also the partly harder version. Of course to find this cheese you will have to check out bigger stores or some online shops. In North Goa, fresh and harder Mozzarella can be commonly found and you should be getting a choice too as well if you buy during the tourist season. The idea of making Italian mozzarella in Goa commercially was initiated about 10 years ago by Italians in Goa. In recent times I have noticed South Indian companies producing mozzarella as well and the numbers are always increasing. It’s not surprising that mozzarella cheese is so popular.
The soft fresh white mozzarella is turned into a ball and then stored in some kind of brine. Usually the soft mozzarella can be stored for a few days in the fridge and packets have always an expiry date. Just earlier today, while doing my groceries, an Italian explained that the mozzarella balls are still good 3 days after expiry date if it was stored in a very cool fridge. Although of course the fresher the better but sometimes it’s just not easy to get a hand on the freshest mozzarella in Goa. Especially now when the tourist season is at an end.
The harder version is more yellow in color and is commonly used to top pizza and on layered lasagne. This variation is way more common in India, however the harder mozzarella is not used in the Caprese salad instead of the soft mozzarella.
Basil, also known in India as Italian Basil, should be available in all major Indian cities and in Goa in bigger markets and along the coastline. I grow my own basil at home which by the way grows well in tropical and subtropical climate. My friend has been growing basil in Goa for years and I have been following her foot steps. The seeds are planted around september each year. Basil doesn’t survive the monsoon which is the difference to the Indian Basil, better known as Tulsi. I think you should be able to grow basil in a flat if you have enough sunlight coming in. If anybody has had experience growing basil in a flat in India, feel free to share your experience with us in a comment.
- 3 medium sized Tomatoes
- 1 Mozzarella Cheese ball
- 1 Tablespoon sliced fresh Basil leafs
- Salt according to your taste
- Pepper according to your taste
- dash Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Slice your tomatoes fine.
- Cut open the mozzarella cheese bag, discard all the water, shake off some liquid from the cheese ball and cut first into half and then into slices.
- Arrange the mozzarella cheese slices and tomato slices in a plate, top with the sliced fresh basil leafs and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- Finnish by adding a dash of olive oil on top.
If you want to learn more about olive oil variations and techniques, check out the ebook “Cooking Techniques with olive oil” by Mary Platis and Laura Bashar. I am not an olive oil expert but I am a self proclaimed olive oil freak who could live on this stuff forever.