Published Apr 09, 2017 07:08am

Salad days

Shazia Hasan

KARACHI: “No onions please. Just tomatoes, radish, beetroot, carrots, some cabbage and mint,” a customer, stopping to buy some salad for himself from a small corner shop next to a well-known nihari restaurant in Saddar, says to Abdul Waheed as he prepares a packet for him. That done he also adds a piece or two of lime before handing it to the customer to receive Rs30 in return.

“I sell cool, crunchy colourful salads in plates as well as in packets,” says Waheed as he arranges the freshly shredded and chopped vegetables in a small stainless-steel plate and hands it to a young boy waiting there.

The customers keep coming. Some want just horseradish, some only beetroot. “The portions I make, whatever vegetables they may constitute, are for Rs20 or Rs30 each,” says Waheed. “The little plates are for the restaurants nearby. Their waiters return the empty plates later.”

A packet of health. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Almost all the salad stalls or vendors can be found outside restaurants or offices in the city. These ensure regular customers and an income of course. “I am one of the lucky ones as I have a corner shop,” says Waheed.

His shop is a very small triangular space, so small that one can barely stand inside it but Waheed is happy. A young boy sits on a stool inside it, pealing cucumbers. That done, he starts cutting them in slices. “I start pealing and chopping whatever vegetable is getting low,” says Omar Farooq, the boy.

Kakri or snake cucumbers. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

“I have observed that when the weather is hot, people ask us to add more cucumbers to their salads.”

And does the heat not have any effect on the vegetables? “We keep sprinkling cool water on them to keep them fresh,” says Waheed.

Eating raw vegetables is a healthy eating habit. It doesn’t even take as much effort as cooking though some like to prepare a dressing for salads. But the salad sellers on the streets say that they sell their vegetables without any kind of dressing. “We don’t even sprinkle salt and pepper on them as that would make them rot sooner. But we can give some spices separately for the customers to add according to taste,” says one of them.

Shredded cabbage and lettuce. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

According to experts, salads are a healthy source of fibre, which can lower cholesterol levels as well as keep body weight under control. Added benefits come in the form of vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene and alpha and beta carotene to provide antioxidants, which go a long way in preventing heart disease and cancer.

Sliced carrots. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Horseradish. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Sprinkling cool water on the vegetables keeps them fresh. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Abdul Waheed at his salad stall in Saddar. -Photos by Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2017

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