How to use Olive Oil in Indian Cooking

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Does the taste and flavour of olive oil bother you while you are constantly bombarded by the information that it is the healthiest oil which can bring down the cholesterol levels and help in shedding those extra pounds?

Everyone these days is talking about olive oil and its benefits. It has become a kind of status symbol to use olive oil in cooking. You heard about it from your friends and, in your enthusiasm, bought a big bottle of oil.

For some reason, when the whole world turned to olive oil, no one told us Indians, which variety to use for Indian cooking. Everyone thought we should use extra-virgin olive oil because it is the best. Yes, it is true that extra-virgin oil has the best flavour but it is also equally true that it is not the right oil for Indian cooking.Olive Oil

Few people know that olive oil is available in three variants: extra-virgin olive oil, pure olive oil and Pomace olive oil. Since extra-virgin olive is advertised most we experiment with it in our cooking only to vow never to use it again.

One interesting fact about olive oil is that it is the only oil that is extracted from a fresh fruit unlike other oils which are extracted either from nuts or seeds.

Olive oil in Indian cooking:
Pomace olive oil can be used in all methods, types and varieties of Indian cooking. It neither changes the taste nor presents any difficulties while cooking. Indian cooking – whether fried, roasted or cooked by any other method – tastes as good with Pomace olive oil as with any other edible oil.

Benefits of Pomace Olive Oil

  • While frying foods between 130C and 190C, this oil forms a crisp golden crust, making fried food much more appetizing, without affecting its nutritional value.
  • During the frying process, the oil hardly penetrates the food, leaving it light and digestible.
  • This oil does not break down, provided the temperature does not exceed 190C.
  • Olive oil might seem expensive at first glance but, if one calculates its efficiency, it is actually cheaper than other oils. Food can be cooked in this oil in one-third the quantity of other oils. Since it has a high smoking point it can also be reused three to four times as long as it is filtered carefully after each use through gauze, muslin or a suitable paper filter. Considering these two points, the effective cost of olive oil is one-sixth of its actual price.

Tips for Using Olive Oil in Cooking

  • While dressing salad, pour the olive oil first and then add salt and vinegar or lemon. Adding the oil first provides a protective layer which helps the vegetables to stay fresh and crisp.
  • Olive oil is suitable for spreading on meat being barbecued as it helps to preserve the natural juices.
  • Ingredients should be dried before deep-frying for best results. Make sure that the frying-pan contains enough oil to cover the ingredients. If there is too little olive oil, food will be too soft or will burn.

Key Features of Three Variants of Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil:

  • The highest grade olive oil with perfect aroma and flavour.
  • Results from the first cold pressing of the olive fruit within 24 hours of harvesting.
  • Relatively heavy and viscous and suitable only for dressings, flavorings and condiments.
  • Used to dress salads, pastas, rice, vegetables, meat and fish.

Pure olive oil:

  • A combination of refined olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Refined olive oil is obtained by refining olive oil that does not contain optimum characteristics. After refining the olive oil, it is blended with extra-virgin olive oil.
  • It is intermediate-grade oil with medium aroma and flavour and a pale colour.
  • Suitable for pan and deep frying, stir-fries, stews, etc.
  • In cakes and pastries it is used both as an ingredient in dough and for frying, but it is not suitable for cooking Indian cuisine.

Pomace olive oil:

  • The main cooking-grade oil and the least expensive also.
  • Obtained by treating the olive residue paste (after the fruit has been pressed) with solvents to extract the oil and then blending the product with extra-virgin oil in order to enhance its aroma.
  • This is light oil with a neutral taste and flavour.
  • Suitable for Indian cuisine.

Feel free to comment or share your thoughts on this "How to use Olive Oil in Indian Cooking" blog post from Awesome Cuisine.

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