It all started at a post-drama dinner few years back, wherein the family and me had just finished watching a political drama at N.C.P.A. and everyone was positively charged and hungry at the same time. Not a good combination, as every member of this drama party was much agitated - each wanted a different cuisine, place, ambiance and worse of all - indifference to the next persons salivating wish. The restaurant argument continued amidst the cacophony of hooting cars and whizzing bikes on Marine Drive till the driver (that's me) got the better of everyone and screeched to a halt outside a non-descriptive building with a sign portraying - Karma - Lounge & Bar.
Maybe this was my Karma or maybe it was luck, as on Saturday night, in town, miles away from home, we get a table immediately. They had a limited menu and everyone on the table had a limited vision on what they wanted and selected the commonest of all dishes on the menu. I'd skip the explanation as to the scene at that very moment, as it was no different from the cacophony and whizzing outside. I made a beeline for the soup of the day (minestrone) and a salad - The good ol' Caesars salad - common now, but quite a gourmet affair then.
Ever since, Caesar's salad has been my staple, outside or at home. The moment I bit into the crispy chilled lettuce, lasciviously slathered with their in-house dressing and freshly shaved Parmesan dotted with olives and baby croutons - It was pure Nirvana. From then on, I decided that I had to master the art of making the very same dressing at home and hunt down iceberg as though vying for marijuana, as 12 years ago, if you got green salad leaves at your local bhajjiwalla, you were in luck.
After much experimentation, countless tastings at various high-end restaurants and re-reruns at Karma Lounge (the help out there knew me by name and would hardly ever wait for my order - it was the same, every single time - Caesar's Salad) - the recipe was finally mastered. It's not difficult and you would probably scoff at the ingredients and wonder why it took so long to understand the mix - but mind you, this is perfection at its ultimate.
You may say, you could buy the dressing ready made from outside and splash it over iceberg, but its just not the same, in fact it's way out of line and tastes like synthetic paste. Try this much savored dish at your very own home and you will not go wrong at all.
6 Cloves garlic, peeled
¾ cup Mayonnaise
½ cup Black Olives (cut into thin rounds)
6 tablsp Grated Parmesan cheese (you may use the store bought variety by Kraft®)
1 tablsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Freshly Prepared Mustard sauce (not the french kind)
¼ cup Olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black pepper to taste
1 head Romaine lettuce / Iceberg Lettuce – rinsed, chilled, towel dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup Garlic Croutons (recipe follows)
Mince 3 cloves (you can add a couple more according to your taste) of the garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise, olives, 2 tablsp of the Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and lemon juice. Whip it well, season to taste with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve: Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan cheese, and croutons. Toss well, Serve chilled with a dash of Tabasco sauce.
Note: You may serve it with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese as it is readily available in many gourmet stores around the city.
Dice into half inch cubes 'sliced bread', preferably a day old. deep fry in hot vegetable oil till golden brown, remove in another pan, add grated garlic (the remaining 3 cloves) and toss. Use cold.