Nov 282013
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Middle Eastern Waldorf Salad



Yesterday in Paris, it was announced that Dubai has won its bid for Expo 2020, beating Sao Paolo (Brazil), Ekaterinburg (Russia) and Izmir (Turkey). Yay, Dubai! There were large-scale celebrations across the UAE, including spectacular fireworks at the Burj Khalifa. Which makes me wonder – to have all those fireworks ready and in place, either Dubai already knew that they had the win in the bag or else they were just extremely optimistic. I wonder what would have happened with all those fireworks if Dubai had not won. Perhaps they would have set them off anyway, in honor of a worthy effort.


I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have never really paid much attention to World Expos. The Expo which I am most familiar with is the one I learnt about in history class at school – the 1851 Crystal Palace World Fair in Hyde Park, London (I remember it because of a beautiful sketch in my textbook of the large and impressive glasshouse structure it took place in).


However, since Dubai (the city I live in) has been working on the Expo 2020 bid for the past two years, I couldn’t really avoid learning something about it. From the get-go, it has been palpable that they really wanted to win this bid. Everywhere I turned, there were been banners, flags and posters with the words Expo 2020 written on them, until I finally asked myself one day, ‘What is Expo 2020?’


It turns out an Expo is actually a pretty big deal. It’s one of the big three international events, alongside the Olympics and the World Cup. The Expo is more formally known as the World Fair, which is an international exhibition which takes place every 5 years for a period of 6 months. The host city sets up a large venue with pavilions where countries come to exhibit their innovations. Some famous inventions which debuted at the World Fair include:


  • elevator (Dublin, 1853);
  • sewing machine (Paris, 1855);
  • calculating machine (London, 1862);
  • Heinz Ketchup, telephone (Philadelphia, 1876);
  • Eiffel Tower (Paris, 1889);
  • Ferris wheel (Chicago, 1893);
  • motion pictures (Paris, 1900);
  • X-ray (1901, New York);
  • ice-cream cone (St. Louis, 1904);
  • television (New York, 1939);
  • fax machines (New York, 1964);
  • mobile phones, IMAX cinema (Osaka, 1970);
  • touchscreens (1982, Tennessee);


With Dubai’s win, it is the first time ever that a World Fair is being held in the MENASA region (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia). Along with the prestige, comes the expectation of an economic boost for the host city, with a current estimate of over 25 million visitors expected at Expo 2020. Dubai’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ encapsulates the vision that interdependencies and partnerships will lead to innovations.


On that note, here’s a little innovation of mine: Middle Eastern Waldorf Salad. Although I like the mix of fruit and vegetables used in a traditional Waldorf Salad, I am not a huge fan of the mayonnaise dressing. So, I decided to play around with the elements of a traditional Waldorf Salad to reinterpret it with a Middle Eastern twist. This version of a Waldorf Salad is made using chickpeas, cucumbers, red grapes, pomegranate seeds, mint leaves and Greek yoghurt. For added crunch, feel free to add a handful of toasted pine nuts.


This may not be an innovation worthy of Expo 2020, but it makes a beautiful, refreshing and unusual salad to eat while we wait for the Expo to come to town!





(Serves 4 as an appetizer)



70g (16 whole) seedless red grapes, halved

130g (1 small or 1/2 large) cucmber, quartered and diced

50g dried or 100g cooked chickpeas

Pomegranate seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate

2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped

Handful of toasted pine nuts (optional)

75 mL (5 Tbsp) Greek yoghurt

Generous pinch of salt (preferably coarse sea salt)



  1. If you have ready-to-eat chickpeas (tinned, bottled, or pre-cooked), simply rinse and drain them.
  2. If you are using dried chickpeas, soak them in water at room temperature for 8-24 hours. After soaking, drain the chickpeas and discard the water. Boil the chickpeas for 30-45 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
  3. Mix the Greek yoghurt, mint leaves and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Add all the ingredients except for the pomegranate seeds and combine well with the yoghurt mixture.
  5. Before serving, scatter with pomegranate seeds.
  6. Please note that for best results, this salad should be served immediately or within 8 hours, otherwise it may start to become watery from the cucumbers. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.


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  2 Responses to “Recipe: Middle Eastern Waldorf Salad”

  1. I am going to try this. I don’t like to use mayonnaise either so it’s a good change.