During the winter months, the tomatoes in our garden in India bore endless fruit. Some were made into juice for us to have midmorning, some were added to vegetable dishes and dals, and some were used to make salads. My father did not grow any heirloom tomatoes in shades of green, yellow, and pink, but I do, and I’ve had great success with them.

    One day, when I was making lunch for four people, I thought we might start with our gorgeous tomatoes. I had been inspired by a tall salad I had eaten at my favorite tapas place in London, Barrafina, and by the shallot-filled dressing they used on another dish, their baby gem salad. I wanted to combine all this with the flavors of my mother’s tomato salad. You can taste the result below.

    This salad needs to be put together at the last moment, but the ingredients should all be gathered on the work surface before you start.

    The dressing used for this salad is also very good on boiled and sliced beets (which you can combine with halved hard-boiled eggs for a delicious salad), boiled and diced potatoes, and parboiled or steamed green beans (which you can mix with drained canned chickpeas).

    SERVES 4


    • 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • Juice from 1 teaspoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
    • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds (see this page)
    • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 6 or more ripe summer tomatoes, in shades of pink, green, yellow, and red, if you can get them (the number depends on size)
    • Salt
    • Ground roasted cumin seeds (see this page)
    • A few small, fresh mint leaves (optional)

    1. First, make the dressing: Put the shallots, vinegar, mustard, ginger juice, salt, pepper, and cumin into a bowl. Mix and set aside for 10 minutes or longer. Now slowly whisk in the oil, pouring in just a little at a time.
    2. Just before you sit down to eat, slice the tomatoes about ⅓ inch thick. Put one slice, each of the same color, in the center of each serving plate. Dust it with a pinch of salt and a little cumin. Pick up slices of a second color and put them on top of the first. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Proceed this way until you have 5–6 rainbow slices, one on top of the other in a tower. If they slide and you end up with a mound, that is fine.
    3. Whisk your dressing again and spoon a little over each tower, using only as much as you need. Scatter the mint around the plate and serve immediately.