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Cool watermelon salads that go beyond feta cheese

Replace the Greek cheese with paneer, coconut or halloumi

Praveen Jayram Shetty's watermelon salad with honey yogurt dressing. (Photo: Conrad Bengaluru)

Salad bowls of summer are synonymous with crunchy watermelon paired with crumbly feta cheese. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with fresh mint, the ingredients come together like the cast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

“The sweet notes of the watermelon pair well with the salty-sourish feta,” says Praveen Jayram Shetty, Director of Culinary, Conrad Bengaluru. The balsamic vinegar adds a tinge of acid. It’s the perfect balance of complementary flavours—sweet and sour—enhanced with the tart acidic element. For a pronounced sour flavour and crunch, the classic Greek version has kalamata olives and diced cucumber.

If watermelon is the base, and the culinary principle of complementary tastes and textures—sweet-sour and crunchy-crumbly—are followed, one can elevate this simple summer salad to a fine dining experience at home. Think of adding sourness with lime juice, tomatoes and even aamchoor. Replace soft feta with tofu, paneer or halloumi. Sprinkle the mother of all umami ingredients in your pantry, kala namak or black salt, to make it both delicious and refreshing.

To think like a chef, Shetty says, “Ask yourself whether you will serve the salad as an accompaniment or a meal.” If it’s a meal, then add a carbohydrate component with bread on the side. For a complete meal, Shetty shares a protein-rich recipe with edamame: Toss a cup of diced watermelon with arugula, half cup edamame and melon seeds; prepare a dressing by whisking yogurt with honey, salt and pepper; mix in the dressing, drizzle olive oil and serve with toasted garlic bread.

Watch: Got mangoes? Here's a salad recipe

Lounge spoke to more chefs who shared watermelon salad recipes beyond feta.


Chef Marina Balakrishnan

Oottupura, Mumbai

Serves 2

Marina Balakrishnan's watermelon salad with coconut. (Photo: Marina Balakrishnan)
Marina Balakrishnan's watermelon salad with coconut. (Photo: Marina Balakrishnan)


For the salad

2 cups watermelon, deseeded and cubed 

Half cup tender coconut meat, julienned or cut into desired shapes 

1 cup cucumber, sliced (one-fourth of an inch thick)

1 tbsp mango ginger, cut into slivers 

For the dressing 

One-fourth cup tender coconut water 

One and a half tbsp lemon juice 

2 teaspoons light olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil 

Half teaspoon cracked pepper 

Salt to taste 

10 mint leaves 

10 to 12 blueberries 


Refrigerate the coconut, watermelon and cucumber for two hours.

Toss all the salad ingredients in a bowl. 

In a jar, place the ingredients for dressing, and shake well.

Pour it over the salad. 

Garnish with mint leaves and blueberries. 


Mango ginger can be replaced with regular ginger . 

Tender coconut meat can be chopped thin or medium thick .

Instead of blueberries, add roasted and crushed cashews.

Also read: Comfort could be a recipe of lemongrass laksa curry


Vivek Tamhane, senior executive chef

BLVD Club, Bengaluru

Serves: 4

Chef Vivek Tamhane's grilled watermelon salad with halloumi and green apple. (Photo: BLVD Club, Bengaluru)
Chef Vivek Tamhane's grilled watermelon salad with halloumi and green apple. (Photo: BLVD Club, Bengaluru)


1 medium watermelon, seedless or deseeded

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 small bunch fresh arugula, washed and dried

1-2 green apples, cubed

150 grams halloumi cheese, cubed

(Can be replaced with soft cottage cheese)

Orange juice


Black pepper


In a small bowl, mix half the quantity of vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, orange juice and make a dressing.

Marinate watermelon and cheese in the dressing

Grill it on the griddle till slightly charred. If possible do this on coal for a fetching smoky flavour.

In a bowl, mix the rest of the vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, orange juice, toss in apple cubes, grilled watermelon, halloumi cheese and arugula.

Serve cold.

Also read: The isles of Oceania—and summertime roast pork recipe


Arun D’Souza, Head chef,

Perch, Mumbai

Serves 2


For the salad

100gm arugula, butterhead lettuce or any leaf of choice (cleaned, dried and chilled)

4 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

Ribbons of 1 cucumber, soaked in ice water

One-fourth large watermelon, cubed and deseeded

One-fourth onion, julienned

5 olives, sliced (ideally kalamata or black)

For the cottage cheese marinade 60gms cottage cheese, sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

Half tsp minced garlic

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

Half tbsp honey

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

4-5 green cardamom pods, cracked and seeds set aside

Salt and pepper to taste


For the dressing, add all the ingredients in a blender and mix until well combined. Adjust the honey and vinegar to taste. Set aside in the fridge and leave for at least two hours. Remove and strain.

Marinate the paneer in the garlic and mustard for an hour at room temperature. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil and cook the paneer until soft and coloured on all sides.

To finish, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well. Serve immediately.

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