Making Salad with Pavithra Dikshit

Once a week Pavithra Dikshit makes salad. The same salad. Twice. She eats the first one and uploads the second to her Instagram and her followers ooh and aah over ingredients that include card paper and washi tape. An artist, designer and typographer with a penchant for long term projects, I discovered Pavithra's work a few months ago while she was participating in the global #100DayProject, creating a piece of art based on gardening daily. Now she's cooking up #ASaladEveryWeek, sometimes with ingredients from her garden - spinach, basil, tomatoes, mint, radish, eggplant. She shares her salads with Lover.  

I loved your project #100daysofgardenandart. You clearly have both an interest and knack for long term projects. What is it about long term projects that you like?

I think I enjoy having discipline in life. I make everything I need to do into a long term project which is then all about the journey. What is great about long term projects is that it gives me a chance or ability to adapt, change and discover new ways in expression that I’d normally not find in the first go. There is also a sense of smaller goals which can change over the course of time as the final outcome isn’t already planned, so there is no real pressure.

Why salad?

I really enjoyed and struggled through the #100DaysOfGardenAndArt project while doing it. But I had a sense of absolute euphoria when I completed it in record time. So I wanted to do another long-term project but not as intensive as making something everyday because I work full time at Landor. At that time, my best friend started #ACakeAWeek project where she wanted to experiment with cake flavours. I felt I could easily balance a weekly project so I jumped on the bandwagon. I chose to work with salads because like half the millennial population, I am in this fitness craze with working out, eating more nutritious food and trying to be healthy. It’s also a great way to experiment with cooking because it’s a super fine balance of raw and cooked flavours. And a lot of times, it’s challenging to adapt flavours from international recipes in a local context. So this has been hugely challenging and fruitful for me as a designer to not only make the salad a fabulous mouthful of texture but also make it look splendid in design.

Take me through the salad making process? How do you decide what to create?

A lot of times I just want to eat something exciting and I have only some ingredients at home, so I figure what to do with the restrictions. Occasionally, I eat something I really like somewhere and I think of how to convert it into a salad. Then I write down the recipes, make a sketch of how I'll lay it out along with colours written. Then I construct it with papers which occupy most of a shelf in my cupboard. The construction is the tricky part as these salads are all fairly small, and the little details take forever to make. Once that's done, I click pictures in natural light only.

What’s the winning salad so far?

I love a good hummus and so I made it into the salad dressing/base! Trust me, there are few things like a good hummus. Garlic roasted eggplant, beans and baby potatoes on a bed of beetroot hummus topped with fresh herbs!  If you want double the texture and taste, put herbs in hung curd for yogurt dressing to top it off with. Stomach and heart, both full. 

 

Pavithra Dikshit lives and works in Bombay. You can find her at pavithradikshit.info and on instagram at @pavithradikshit.