For a long time, to me, a salsa was a Latin dance that woke up the rhythm inside you and set the floor on fire with its mesmerizing foot work and moves. In fact, if you Google “what is salsa?” what you get is an umpteen number of links to everything dance.
With blogging about food came new food knowledge and I discovered that salsa, the Salsa Fresca (also known as Pico de Gallo) in particular, was a sort of chopped up fresh and spicy uncooked salad made of onions, tomatoes, chillies and fresh coriander seasoned with salt and lime – much like the Indian Kachumber salad.
Seems like salsa is to Mexican and Spanish cooking, what chutneys are to Indian food. The original salsa apparently started out as a condiment of tomatoes, chillies and ground squash seeds in Aztec kitchens. This was served alongside main dishes of meat and fish.
Salads don’t get easier than the Pico de Gallo since all one needs to do is chop up the vegetables, season it and it is ready to serve. In fact the name Pico de Gallo which I believe translates roughly as “rooster’s beak” is supposed to refer to the rough and spiky appearance of the chopped vegetables while others feel it is because they look bird feed!
There are versions of salsa which use blanched tomatoes or the salsa is cooked. Variations of the basic salsa are sometimes made substituting some other vegetable or fruit for tomatoes. All salsas have some amount of chillies in them.
A Salsa Fresca can also have other vegetable additions like cucumber, radish, etc or fruit like melon, porange, papaya or mango. There are mangoes everywhere here now, and the soft, juicy sweetness of mango is a perfect addition and contrast to other ingredients in a Pico de Gallo/ Salsa Fresca.
What shines in this salad are the few ingredients and the minimal seasoning and this is definitely a poster choice for the thought in food that is “less is more” and delicious to boot.
If you would like to try this with Indian food, then try this Mango Pico de Gallo/ Salsa Fresca with chappathis, paneer butter (less) masala or a spicy curry and plain yogurt. Otherwise, serve it with stuffed parathas or any other flat bread and plain yogurt or dig into it as it is!