When we were searching for a salad that reflects my restaurant Qualia’s ethos, my Chef de Cuisine, Tarang, came up with this recipe. The tomato is the hero ingredient here – used both fresh and fermented, it brings in a funky chewiness. The avocado soup, which is more like a puree, adds a calming touch, offsetting the tomatoes’ sweet-sour profile. Tying it all together is the delicious creamy burrata.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time


    Plus 4 days to ferment tomatoes and 2 hours to pickle celery


For Fermented Tomatoes

  • 500 gm red tomato
  • 50 gm celery
  • 30 gm salt
  • 1 lt water
  • 10-12 black peppercorns
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves

For Tomato Salad

  • 250 gm heirloom tomato
  • 250 gm fermented tomato
  • 10 gm chive, chopped
  • 5 gm parsley, chopped
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 ml white balsamic
  • 10 ml honey
  • Salt and pepper

For Avocado Soup

  • 1 large ripe avocado, mashed
  • 50 gm sour cream
  • 10 gm spinach leaf, blanched
  • 5 gm coriander
  • 150 ml vegetable stock, chilled
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 10 ml honey
  • 1 green chilli
  • Salt and pepper

For Pickled Celery

  • 200 gm celery stalk
  • 50 gm sugar
  • 5 gm salt
  • 50 ml white wine vinegar

For Garnish

  • 40 gm roasted almond flakes
  • 20 gm pickled celery
  • 15 gm celery microgreens
  • 20 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 baby burrata


For Fermented Tomatoes

  1. Wash tomatoes and prick the tops and bottoms a couple of times with a fork.
  2. Place tomatoes, celery stalks, garlic and spices in a sterilised mason jar.
  3. Bring water to boil in a pot. Once heated, add salt and pour the hot liquid over the tomatoes in the jar, leaving an inch of free space on top. Seal the jar and let it sit at room temperature for several days. 
  4. After the second day, you will need to “burp” your jar by opening and resealing the lid to release the build-up of fermentation gas.
  5. After 3-4 days, you will find the liquid in the jar has turned cloudy. This is good. It’s meant to. 
  6. Bubbles will rise through the liquid and pop on surface around the fourth day. The tomatoes are ready to eat by this point, but you may choose to let them ferment further. They’ll get funkier as time goes on. Whenever you decide to stop, transfer the jar to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation, if not totally stop it. Just remember to “burp” the jar every three-four days even while refrigerated.

For Avocado Soup

  1. Peel and de-seed the avocado. 
  2. Add the avocado flesh with other ingredients to a blender jar. Blend to a thick soup consistency. Refrigerate, well covered, to prevent it from discolouring until use.

For Pickled Celery

  1. Separate the individual celery stalks from the bunch by prying them off the bottom until they snap off.
  2. Wash the individual stalks under cold running water to remove any dirt. Trim off and discard the large white section from the bottom of each stalk.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the fibrous, thread-like outer skin on the convex surface and discard. Continue using the peeler and shave off long ribbons of celery peels.
  4. Marinate celery ribbons in a dressing of vinegar, salt and sugar and store in a non-reactive container, refrigerated for two hours before use.

For Heirloom Tomato Salad

  1. Cut heirloom tomatoes in different shapes (wedges, rounds, halves, slices) depending upon the size.
  2. Using a pair of kitchen tongs, remove a couple of fermented tomatoes from the brine. Peel and cut into wedges.
  3. Dress with a vinaigrette made from the vinegar, oil and herbs and adjust the seasoning.

To Serve

  1. In a coupe plate, place the marinated tomatoes along one edge and pour some of the avocado “soup” beside them in the centre.
  2. Garnish the tomato salad with pickled celery, microgreens and roasted almond flakes.
  3. Place a cut open burrata on the tomato salad and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it and the tomatoes. Season with crushed black pepper and a little salt. 
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar, the chef-founder of Qualia in Mumbai, was Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.

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