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Appetizer Recipe

Caprese Salad with Sweet Tamarind Dressing

Nik Sharma

Caprese Salad with Sweet Tamarind Dressing

Nik Sharma

I’ve always enjoyed the Italian Caprese because of the way acidic tomatoes play against the sweet-and-sour flavors of aged balsamic and the fruity notes of olive oil. Then there’s the beautiful contrast in texture between the soft and creamy mozzarella and the firmer slices of tomatoes. I’ve reinvented this classic by adding a dressing of tamarind and jaggery.

While the success of this salad is dependent on good-quality seasonal tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, the tamarind dressing makes the biggest impact on its flavor. Blending the tamarind and olive oil with whole spices releases an irresistible combination of sweet, sour, and earthy flavors into the dressing.

Serves 4


Tamarind Dressing

2 ounces [55 g] sour tamarind pulp or paste
½ cup [120 ml] boiling water
¼ cup [60 ml] extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon jaggery or muscovado sugar
½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon dried Urfa Biber chili flakes or dried Aleppo pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 pint [295 g] mixed cherry tomatoes, such as Yellow Pear and Large Black Cherries, halved lengthwise
1 pint [345 g] grape tomatoes, such as Juliet, halved lengthwise
4 to 6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
8 ounces [230 g] fresh mozzarella bocconcini, cut crosswise into four pieces
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon fine sea salt


To make the dressing:

Put the tamarind pulp in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour. Massage and squeeze the pulp or paste to soften. Press through a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a small bowl, discarding the solids left behind in the strainer. Put the strained tamarind in a blender and add the olive oil, lime juice, jaggery, coriander, salt, Urfa Biber, and black pepper. Pulse on high speed until well combined. Taste and adjust the sweetness and seasoning, if necessary.

To make the salad:

Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and add the mozzarella, cilantro, olive oil, and salt. Add half the tamarind dressing and toss gently to coat evenly. Serve with the extra tamarind dressing on the side.

Reprinted from Season by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.

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