Friday, August 31, 2012

The Tale of a Fish Virgin; Understanding A Fish Called Bombay Duck

Just like half the country’s population I was raised in a vegetarian household. I remember I was 13 when my mother first allowed me to cook some poultry. I was given strict instructions to not touch any of her kitchen equipment with chicken-soiled hands. She even bought me a special vessel and everything to keep her kitchen pure. I had no idea how long it takes to cook chicken, nor did my mom. I assumed it would take forever if I used an open vessel so I used a pressure cooker. It is no surprise, that it was a recipe for disaster. That’s what happens when you aren’t familiar with the ingredient you’re dealing with. In cooking school I learnt, look, smell, feel, taste before you cook, and I am going to include read up before you cook to that list.

Write this in stone if the ingredient you are dealing with is Bombay Duck also known as Bombil. I think the fresh ones look a little creepy, and so I was Bombay duck virgin until I picked up some courage and bought them at the market a couple of days ago. They are silver-white, slimy lizardfish found in abundance between Mumbai and the Kutch area, in the Arabian Sea. It is also found in the Bay of Bengal and parts of South China Sea. It gets its name from Bombay because it is found here in abundance and from ‘dak’ meaning mail. The story behind this name is uncertain but it has to do with the stinky smell the Bombay Mail train carried during the monsoon.


Due to its unique, delicate, melt-in-the-mouth flesh, Bombay Duck has NO substitute. The essence of this fish lies in its delicate texture. The delicate texture of Bombay duck makes handling and cooking this fish a tad tricky. It stinks when dried and has a peculiar smell even when it’s fresh. The bone structure of this fish fairly simple, it has a single, soft bone running through its back.

Bombay Duck is often sold dried. It is salted and hung on ropes to dry. In Mumbai, I have spotted fishermen and women salting and drying this fish in Versova and Madh Island, close to where I live. Dried Bombil emits a strong stinky smell and is transported in airtight containers. This dried fish can be used in Curry or a seasoning and flavouring, it is also used to make pickles such as the Bombil paraa.

Fresh Bombay Duck on the other hand is very delicate and the flesh is highly perishable. A single fish varies in size between 6 to 12 inches. Fresh Bombay Duck is usually deep fried and is a delicacy along the Western coastal line and the Bay of Bengal.

What is the Best Way to Use Bombay Duck

Since this is a highly perishable fish, large quantities are salted and dried. The dried fish is used to season and flavour curries and rice. Dried Bombay Duck is also used to make pickles.

Fresh Bombay Duck deep-fried is a delicacy. With a crunchy coating it literally melts-in-the-mouth. In a Bengali preparation, cooked disintegrated fish is mixed with flour and spices and made into fritters, where as along the west coast the fish is fried in one piece. Curries or any wet cooking method can cause the flesh to break easily, so will pan-frying due to handling.

Buying Fresh Bombay Duck and Storage

Fresh Bombay Duck should be silvery-white with a slimy glossy skin (no scales). The flesh is pinkish on the inside. The body should not be saggy or swollen. The flesh should not have darkened or broken but intact. Although this fish does have a powerful smell, when fresh it should not stink.

It should be cooked as soon as possible after it’s bought. If you must, store it covered in ice. Dried fish can keep for up to 6 months in an airtight container.

How To Clean Bombay Duck (Bombil)

Be careful when handling Bombay duck, it has sharp teeth and a wide-open mouth you may bruise your fingers.

The skin is very thin and slimy. First, thoroughly wash the fish and then pat it dry. Cut the head and the tail off. Cut the fins with scissors. Clean the gut with your fingers if necessary. Run the knife along the back to cut open the fish. The bone is exposed but removing it at this stage will make it more difficult to handle.

There is a single soft bone running along its body and it can be chewed easily. Once it is cooked, it can also be pulled out simply after taking your first bite to expose the bone.

How To Process

Rub salt on the fresh fish, then wrap it up in an absorbent cloth and put it under a heavy weight for 2 hours.

Pat dry each fish before using.

How to Cook Fresh Bombay duck (Bombil)

Bombil Fry

Spicy deep-fried Bombil with a crispy semolina crust and a melt-in-the-mouth flesh is a delicacy one must try on a trip to Mumbai, or if you happen to get your hands on it elsewhere, cook it and enjoy!

Serves 4

Ingredients

Bombay Duck 8 numbers, cleaned and processed

Garlic 8 cloves, peeled

Ginger 2 inch piece

Kashmiri Red Chili, dried 2 numbers

Coriander Seeds, roasted 20grams

Tamarind Paste 20grams

Salt to taste

Rice Flour 60grams

Semolina 60grams

Vegetable Oil for frying

Method

Clean, process and prepare the Bombay duck following the method mentioned above. Pat-dry all the pieces of fish.

Grind ginger, garlic, red chili, coriander seeds, tamarind paste and salt with a little oil into a smooth paste.

Rub this paste on the fish. The paste can also be stuffed along where the slit is made on the body of the fish.

In a plate, mix rice flour, semolina and a pinch of salt. Roll the flavoured pieces of fish in this semolina-rice flour mix. Pat and remove the excess flour clinging on to the fish.

Heat oil in a deep pan and deep-fry the fish in hot oil. Cook on medium heat till the crust turns golden brown. Turn it on an absorbent paper towel.

Once the excess oil is removed serve the fried Bombay duck with tamarind paste.

Note: Since salt is added in 3 stages in this recipe, be sure to add a limited quantity each time to prevent the fried fish from becoming salty.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Truth About Banquet Kitchens, Two Delicious Men and An Uninspired Meal; Nokia AppTasting Event in Mumbai

Have a look at the Nokia Dream App Contest. Courtesy all-aboutfreestuff.blogspot.com



Name: Nokia Apptasting, Indibloggers Meet

Location: Banquet Hall, Taj Lands End, Mumbai

Date of Visit: 19th August, 2012 (Dinner)

My blogger friends referred to the food at the Nokia Apptasting Event as ‘Shaadi Ka Khana’, I understand their point of view. It is true that in 90 percent of the Indian weddings it’s hard to tell paneer butter masala from dum aloo or chicken kadhai. I have worked in a banquet kitchen. The non-motivated cooks don’t care about what the food looks like or tastes like, they cook in large quantities and the items carry an ensemble of common dishes. The flavours don’t matter as long as the food is edible. The general standard of a banquet kitchen, many a times is very non- ambitious, run-of-the-mill food. Although it always surprises me how any man with a creative mind does not care to better the taste of the dish.

In many ways the work of a commis or Chef De Partie is very monotonous because standard recipes have to be prepared with standard ingredients day after day. Unless superiors revise the menu there is no change in how much chili or salt you can add to a dish, making the restaurant kitchen a far less glamorous place than you would imagine.

One of the more important jobs of any Chef is reducing food wastage and creating value for money. Someone at Taj Lands End must have taken this responsibility more seriously than we like. The basa appetisers that were served to us generously were a testament that the not-so-fresh seafood would be thrown if it wasn't served and literally force fed to us. Other appetisers like paneer tikka, stir-fried potato, vegetarian kebabs were being served too, but the fish was served 10 times over than any other appetiser.

It is acceptable to serve generic items like dal makhani, chicken curry and paneer at an event like this but it is unacceptable to be served food that is tasteless with thin curries and dried out meat. The chocolate mousse was average and so was the rice kheer. There was not one item on the entire menu that evening that could be accused of being special or good. Lesson learnt, don’t throw a wedding party at Taj LandsEnd banquet, better still don’t attend one either.

The evening was pleasant, the two charismatic hosts, Vikas Khanna and Rajiv Makhni made it interesting. There were many fun activities with quizzes and games for the bloggers. I started enjoying the evening more after I went up for a chat with Vikas Khanna and Rajiv Makhni, and won 2 portable Nokia chargers. They answered a lot of interesting questions about food and technology. They also enlightened us about Nokia’s Apps.

I am an App technology virgin, like you would believe that, no, no one’s is a technology virgin in today’s times but I am fairly new to the concept. Rajiv familiarized us with Food related Apps like foodspotting, where in you add the picture of a dish you ate and write about where you ate it and a one liner about what you think of the dish. Similarly, there was an App that wasn’t demonstrated but spoken about, the Cocktail App. I really liked the concept of this App, you feed in the ingredients you have, and a list of cocktails you can make with the available ingredients appears on your phone with the recipes. Then there was the food & wine pairing app which has created a buzz in the Indian food & Beverage industry in the last couple of months. Many wine companies such as Sula wines have also come up with such an app for iPhone and Android. In this app, you feed in information about the food you are eating and it generates a list of wines that will pair well with this food. It also tells you about the character of the wine like the dryness, tannins and as such.

I have to admit my favorite Apps were not the ones about food. There was an app that allows you to search destinations, nearby places and directions, even in remote places without the using GPS on the phone. Another Nokia App I liked was an App that allows you to choose the best shot of each individual and merge it in one group photograph.

The best part of the evening was that I had a great time with my blogger friends, we criticized the food together, hooted for each other as we went up on stage, took pictures and chatted with our hosts together and made jokes about being served freakishly sweet, non-alcoholic drinks only, when our male counter parts were being served black label. It was a great evening with disappointing food.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mastering the Art of Cooking With Tea.



For all these years we have restricted ourselves to using tea in very closed dimensional, monotonous way in our kitchens. For over a hundred years now, there are few Indians that will argue with the fact that Chai has dominated our palate. It is hard to imagine wada pav or samosa without cutting chai. I can’t even survive the monsoon or read a book without my cup of tea. Flavour it with ginger, cardamom or tulsi leaves, the flavour of tea has enslaved our palates.

With contemporary cooking and global cuisine making their way into our cities and kitchens, my curiosity got me thinking about tea. How can use tea in multiple ways? What is the versatile, multifaceted nature of this leaf? I have covered on how we can cook, experiment and use tea in our daily cooking in this section. These are my experiments and adventures in cooking with tea. Do share your experiences with me, as you cook with tea.





Tea as We Know It

‘Chai’, a popular beverage made by boiling a mixture of water and milk, adding flavour and colour by adding in ‘Chai patti’ or tea leaves and then adding lots of sugar to it.
While some people like to add in Chai ‘masala’ to their Chai, others add in cardamom, black pepper or ginger. Ginger chai tastes even better if you add in some cinnamon powder to it, try it.
The urban population also drinks lemom tea, green tea, white tea or even pomegranate tea. The most commonly used tea in India however, is black tea even today.
Types of Tea Available in India
The supermarkets are primarily stocked with brands of ‘chai patti’ which are usually blends of different types of tea. In India you do find various types of pure black tea as well which is not blended.

Black Tea – Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon (available in India)
Black tea gets its name from the darkness of the liquor. It is produced from Camellia sinensis, the same plant as white tea, green tea, oolong tea, and pu’erh tea. What makes black tea different from other varieties comes from how it is produced, specifically, the amount the tea is allowed to oxidize after the leaves have been plucked.
Green Tea – Green tea is a type of tea that is harvested and then quickly preserved. Whereas black tealeaves are allowed to oxidize after they are picked, green tealeaves are immediately heated to prevent oxidation.
White Tea- Grown mainly in China and Taiwan. White tea is made from immature tea leaves that are picked shortly before the buds have fully opened. The tea takes its name from the silver fuzz that still covers the buds, which turns white when the tea is dried.
Earl Grey- is a tea blend with a distinctive flavour and aroma derived from the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit
Oolong Tea - Oolong teas fall somewhere in the middle: partial fermentation gives them a distinct reddish colour and a "flowery" flavor.
Jasmine Tea – These are Jasmine flowers mixed in small proportions with tea.
Chamomile – Is not a tea but a herb, which is a flower similar to daisy.
Fruity and other flavours of tea such as apple, cherry, mint, lemon or ginger
Tea Facts about India
India is one of the largest producers and exporters of tea in the world.
India is the largest producer of Black Tea in the world.
Darjeeling Tea is known as the Champagne of teas.
Teas That Can be Used in Cooking
Earl Grey tea, Jasmine tea and different types of black tea are often used to flavour sweet and savoury dishes. Green tea and Oolong tea are also used to flavour rice or in making cheesecakes. Apart from enjoying tea as a beverage, tea can also be used as a herb and a flavouring.
How To Use Tea in Cooking
As Indians, we have a better understanding of the flavour of black tea over others. I suggest, start by using black tea in your cooking. Try dependable combinations like citrus fruits with black tea flavoured sugar syrup.
Although Jasmine tea flavoured rice goes surprisingly well with coconut curries like Meen(fish) Moilee from Kerala.
Making A Tea Infusion

Boil water, add in the tealeaves, turn off the heat and cover with a lid.
Allow the leaves to steep for a few minutes. Strain the tea and discard the leaves.
The concentration of tea can be regulated with the amount of tea you add or the length of time you let the tea steep for, giving you more control on the dominance of tea flavor in your dish. When the desired concentration is achieved, strain the liquid for use.
Using Tea
Soups
Tea leaves can be added to stock and once the desired concentration is achieved, remove the tea leaves and use the tea-flavoured stock to make soup.
Used clarified stock flavoured with tea to make tea consomme garnished with mussels, clams and other seafood.
Use fish stock flavoured with black tea, ginger, garlic, soy sauce for an oriental style seafood soup.
Cream soups, like a cream of mushroom soup can be flavoured with tea by adding a prepared black tea infusion concentrate to the soup.
Vegetable puree soups such as potato and cheese soup can be flavoured with Chamomile tea. Dip in the tea bag when the vegetable puree is cooking and remove after tasting, when the concentration is right for your palate.
Salads
Vinegar – We frequently use balsamic vinegar or fruit wine vinegars to give a unique twist to our salads. Why not try plain vinegar flavoured with tea?
How To Infuse Cold liquids like Vinegar or Orange Juice with Tea?
Add tea to plain vinegar, let the tea steep and allow it to sit for a couple of hours or until it reaches the desired strength. Remove the tea from the vinegar and drizzle over salads for the X factor in salads.
Use the same technique to flavour orange juice with black tea, mix it with a little olive oil and use to drizzle over grilled vegetables or salad.
Tea Oils
Simply replace the extra virgin olive oil in your salad with tea oil to add flavour.
Using Tea in Marinades
There are 2 ways of using tea to marinate your meat.
1) Infusion – Make a tea concentrate and add it into the marinade mixture.
Add in spices and aromatics like black pepper, shallots or chilies along with oil. For example, pork chops marinated with apple puree and black tea.
2) Rubbing into Meat- Use a pestle and mortar to crush tea, chili, ginger with some salt and oil. Rub this mixture on chicken legs with skin and pop it into the oven.
Sauces
Use tea concentrate to add in sauces. Mushrooms, leeks and lemon along with a little tea concentrate make a great sauce to go with mussels or clams, even salmon.
Braising – Any red or pink meat like lamb, sheep or veal can be browned in butter and then cooked with tea concentrate and spices like cloves, black pepper and garlic.
Rice and Pastas
Boil water and add in an aromatic tea like Jasmine or fennel tea, remove the tea once the desired concentration is reached. Remove the tea leaves and use this cooking liquid to cook rice or pasta. Subtle flavour of fennel in pasta tastes good with grilled vegetables and greens. Jasmine tea flavoured rice tastes good with Thai curry.
The leftover cooking liquid can later be used to steam mussels or clams.
Breads
Mix crushed tea (green or oolong) with aromatic herbs such as basil and use this mixture to sprinkle over ciabatta or any other homemade bread while baking for flavour.
Desserts
Sugar Syrup – Add in tea leaves to warm sugar syrup, once it is flavoured remove the tea and pour this syrup over oranges, sweet lime, grapefruit or other citrus fruits. Garnish them with a few tea leaves sprinkled on top.
Citrus Tarts and puddings– Add some assam black tea to flavour lemon tarts or puddings. The tangy, refreshing flavour of citrus fruits pairs beautifully with black tea, just like in lemon tea.
Granitas and Ice Creams. Use rose and tea infused water to make granitas.
Steep tea leaves in cream for a couple of hours to add flavour in ice cream.
Muffins and Cakes

A strong tea concentrate made with Ear Grey tea tastes great when added to the batter when making muffins. Add some nuts to the Earl Grey Muffins and you have yourself a treat.
Dried fruit, fruits and tea can be used to make glazes for cakes. Apricot and tea glaze are great on a dense fruitcake.
Fruit and tea glaze can also served with barbequed meats and grills.
Tea Crust
There are two ways in which tea can be used as a crust.
1) Blend (freshly picked) tea leaves in small quantities with aromatic herbs like basil, parsley and coriander along with some fresh breadcrumbs and use this mixture to coat the meat, fish or poultry before panfrying it.
2) Take a whole fish with the skin and brush to remove the scales. Take 150g of rock salt mixed with 60g of crushed tealeaves and fold this into egg white from 5 eggs, lightly beaten. Use this mixture to fully coat the fish on both sides and then pop it into the oven at 200 degree Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the fish. Crack and remove this salt crust and serve the tea-flavoured fish.
Tea for Smoking
Keemun and Souchong are good choice for smoking. Black tea works well for smoking meat and poultry due to the beautiful aroma. To use them the leaves are wet and then use them like mesquite chips. You can use a grill box or even smoke them in wok with 2 cups of uncooked rice with ¼ cup black tea along with other spices like black pepper and some sugar covered with a fitted lid so smoke doesn’t escape.
Tea As a Colouring Agent
Indian Cooking- My mother adds a tea bag to the water when she boils chickpeas to make chhole in order to darken the colour of the chickpeas as well as the curry. Using Tea as a coluring agent also adds a subtle earthy aroma without dominating the flavour.
Black Tea concentrate can be used to darken sauces and make them look more appetising.
Tea as a Seasonal Health Drink

We Indians drink tea in the form of ‘Chai’ latte all year around. We also boil tea with ginger and lemongrass to cure a cold.
Spice Tea includes Ginger + Tulsi (Holy Basil) + Blackpepper + clove + cinnamon + lemongrass + pinch of turmeric warmed with some milk and sugar for a sore throat and cold. My grandmother says it works like a magic wand.
Tea for Cocktails
Steep tea in alcohol for a couple of hours and let it stand. The flavoured alcohol can be used to make cocktails.
Flavour Vodka with tea or use tea (light) concentrate to make a Vodka Tea Martini.

Next time you are cooking, do try experimenting with tea flavour in some of your favourite dishes. First, try using small quantities of tea mixed with aromatic herbs or use infusion technique so you have more control on the concentration of tea flavour in your dish. Keep tasting and adjusting the tea concentration as per your preference, since we Indians understand this flavour so well, it won’t take long for you to master it. Happy cooking!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Say Cheese! Out of the Blue, E-Square, Pune

Name: Out of the Blue

Location: E-square, Pune

Date of Visit: 24th August, 2012 (Dinner)

Birthdays are a very big deal in my family. When we were growing up, we would make cards with glitter, sketch pens and even write little poems for my father about how he was the best dad in the world. All that is gone now since we are able to afford a real gift; Though, I still think he preferred the handmade cards. He misses all the attention his little girls used to shower on him. He often finds us texting while he talks to us now. So, last evening I decided to leave my phone back when we were leaving for Out of the Blue for his birthday dinner.

In many ways, our dinner at Out of the Blue last evening was a family reunion. In fewer words, the fondue and wine brought us together again. Everyone stopped texting and enjoyed the time together, in that moment at Out of The Blue. The setting was perfect. Wooden tables with little candle lamps, mood lighting and a comfortable low sitting area. I loved this arrangement; you take off your shoes and climb into one of these booths, stretch your legs and relax. I would’ve loved it if the ambience was perfect but there were two problems. First, the live music was way too loud and second, with that setting on a Friday evening, the guests were loud and the place was very noisy.

We made our peace with that and ordered for OTB cracked pepper fondue, a house specialty but we made the mistake of asking for a wine to go with the fondue. For a minute there I felt we were speaking gibberish because the waiter seemed so confused. He not only did not know what wine would go well with the fondue but also did not know which wines they served or which ones were available that day. He kept forcing us to buy Pearl bay, a South African wine but otherwise he was just clueless. The wine list was limited; it mostly included Indian brands like Reveila, OTB’s House brand, Kingfisher (yes, they make wine) and a few South African wines. Reisling was listed but not available. Each time we chose something from the wine list, ‘SIBA’ our waiter would go to the bar and return empty handed with a sorry face. After he made three trips to the bar, I began to lose my cool and told him, ‘just bring us what you have in white’. He almost ruined the evening, missed by an inch.

For other choices on the menu, to be honest, those who haven’t been to OTB in Mumbai won’t be disappointed to see this menu. I was slightly disappointed, be it fondue, soups, salads or main course, the menu had limited choice when compared with OTB Mumbai. Nonetheless, they made up for it in taste. You don’t care how limited the choice is as long as every item that is served to you tastes good.

It will be an inexcusable fault if I said the fondue, as usual, at OTB tastes good. That OTB fondue does not taste good, it tastes awesome. I agree it is very tough to go wrong when you are serving warm, melted cheese in a bowl to dip fresh, crispy bread in, but OTB does it with flair. I’ve trained, so I know, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with a fondue; the proportions of cheese, the proportion of cheese to wine and garlic in it, the cheese could be stale, its flavor may not be up to the mark. There was no such flaw in the OTB fondue, it was right, and it made the evening right.

It was beautiful, all four of us together, dipping our bread and sipping the wine, relaxed. Conversation and fondue flow easy, that’s the great thing about it, with fondue, you interact even when you’re not talking. Even though I consider fondue a very romantic meal, last night made me realize it is for family, for friends and all the people you love. You didn’t think we were going to stop at one, did you? We called for the chicken and ham fondue next. The chicken was juicy and supple, so was the ham. It is one thing to invite bloggers and serve great food and it is another thing to maintain that quality for every guest who comes to dine.

We were too full after two fondues to have the main course as well. Instead, we decided to split one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian dish between the four of us. We went for Prawn aglio olio from the charcoal grill selection and porcini mushroom risotto. It is very rare to find consistency in restaurants. Consistency, in terms of great taste between dishes, meals over a period of time and even branches of a brand. Every dish in that meal was beautiful.

The porcini mushroom risotto was creamy, subtle in flavour, and the prawns were juicy and full of flavour. We did not have the chocolate fondue they serve because we still had a cake to cut. From my previous experiences I know that OTB serves good dessert.

That Thing About This Place is that I have begun to trust OTB as a brand. This is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain. I hope that they will maintain this quality and teach their staff about the wines they serve.

Ambience: 7/ 10 Good

Value For money: 7/ 10 Good

Menu: 7/10 Good

Service: 6/10 Average

Food: 8/ 10 Very Good

That Thing About This Place: 8/ 10 Very Good

Good Ambience + Good Value For Money + Good Menu + Average Service + Very Good Food + Very Good That Thing About This Place = Good

Rating: 7/ 10

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Avocado; A Fruit That Tastes like a Vegetable (Experience Note by Chef YB Mathur)


For us Indians, Avocado is a fairly new addition in our local markets as well as our kitchens. Although I have tried it in salads, guacamole and also in various mexican delicacies, its culinary versatility is yet to be explored.

What is an Avocado?

It is a fruit that tastes like a vegetable and looks like a pear. They can be round or pear shaped. They come in a range of colors from dark green to crimson to yellow or almost black. I have spotted medium green, pear shaped avocados in the Indian market. Avocado has a mild, rich and fatty flavor. It is grown in Mexico and used in various Mexican dishes.

How To Check if Avocado is Ripe?

Ripe Avocado is firm but if you can press gently, it is ripe.

Unlike most fruits, avocado only starts to ripen when they have been cut from the tree. Raw avocado is wrapped in paper, stored at room temperature for a few days to ripen.

How to Store?

Do not cut until just before use, avocado flesh blackens on the surface when exposed.

Place the avocado in an opaque container with a piece of cut up onion. Cover with lid and refrigerate. Avocado stay fresh for many days this way. You can also wrap it in cling film, refrigerate and protect it from air and light.

How To Use?

It is cut lengthwise, deseeded and the brown skin is removed to reveal the green flesh on the inside. The flesh can be scooped out with the help of a melon scooper.

To use Avocado in salad, cut it lengthwise, remove the seed and remove the brown skin. Cut it halves lengthwise again, peel the skin and slice the avocado.

Peeled and deseeded Avocado can also be pureed and used in pasta sauces, desserts or beverages.

Avocado, Health and Norurishment.

Avocado has the highest protein content of any fruit.

100g of Avocado contains 190kCal. Their fat can reduce cholesterol levels considerably. They are good for diabetic sufferers. They are high in fibre, that is 3.4g per 100gms. Avocado is a good source of Vitamin E, mono-saturated fats and potassium which helps to control pressure and maintain a regular heart-beat and a healthy nervous system.

Vitamin E and C present in Avocado are both anti-oxidants and therefore prevent free radical damage that leads to certain cancers.

Interesting Facts About Avocado.

Cutting and rubbing the flesh of a ripe avocado on sun-burnt skin helps in soothing it.

Being rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, both of them having antioxidant properties, avocados help in slowing down the aging process.

Avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant and were not purchased or consumed by people wanting to preserve a chaste image.

Mexico is the world’s top producer of avocados, with California coming in second.

Although the Spanish noted the existence of Avocado since 1519, it was dismissed as tasteless until it began to become popular in 20th century America.

Cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, birds, parrots, fish and particularly horses can be severely harmed or even killed if they consume the leaves, bark of the tree, or avocado pit.

There are currently around 80 different avocado varieties.

Folk wisdom believed that a Mayan princess ate the very first avocado, and it gave her magical powers.

Cooking With Avocado

Explore your possibilities with Avocado; you can peel, deseed and puree it and use it to make a pasta sauce, dessert or a milkshake.

One of the most popular Avocado recipes is Guacamole, which is served as a side with Quesadillas and tacos, it is also served as a dip with tortilla chips.

Avocado dressing compliments seafood. Avocado can also be used in salads or tacos with seafood.

In Indonesia it is also used in a milkshake and some even use avocado to make sushi.You can also try this easy Guacamole recipe to begin with.


Guacamole

Guacamole is made of avocado; it is eaten on the side with Mexican delicacies such as Quesadillas and it can also be eaten with tortilla chips as a dip.

For 150gms of Guacamole

Ingredients

Avocado 100gms (recipe uses 1 avocado)

Onion, chopped 25gms

Tomato, chopped 25gms

Green Chilli, chopped 10gms

Lemon Juice 15ml

Coriander Leaves, chopped 20gms

Salt to taste

Special Equipment Melon Scooper

Method:

Cut the Avocado into half, lengthwise. Remove the seed and the brown skin attached to the seed.

Use a melon scooper to scoop out the flesh of the avocado.

Coarsely grind the avocado.

In a bowl, add in chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, chopped green chilli and chopped coriander leaves along with the coarsely ground avocado and mix well.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture and add in salt, mix well.

Serve cold with tortilla chips.

Tip: Do not cut or scoop out the avocado until right before you mix it. The avocado tends to get oxidized and the exposed inside begins to blacken.

Avocado are available in Godrej Nature's Basket Stores www.naturesbasket.co.in

Also available in Mumbai localbanya.com/

Chef's Experience Note:

Chef Y.B. Mathur is Sr. Executive Chef (retd.) with ITC WelcomGroup Hotels. I met him during the ITC Kitchen Executive interviews, 3 years ago. He is my guide and teacher, and I would love to share his note about Avocados with you.

"For years Avocado and prawn salad was the topmost seller in the restaurant that I ran as Chef In Abu Dhabi Meridien. Each day we were selling upwards of 42 portions during dinner (I ran a nightclub cum speciality dining room - the largest in the gulf at that point of time - it had 180 covers, 6 carving stations, 12 side-boards, and a waiting lounge. It had ten gueridon trollies, 6 for flambes and 4 for cheese and wine service. All salads on the menu had to be made at site as per customer's choice of made-in-presence dressings and sauce variations).

We kept the basic salad mix of the Avocado and prawn salad ready for dispensation. The salad had to be tossed in front of the customers and dressing made according to their taste. The dressings were formally presented before being mixed in the salads.
I made the mistake of withdrawing it from the offer during a menu change. I was forced to give it as "off-the-menu" item right from the day I brought in the new menu till the day I came back from the Gulf. "

I think this note from Chef Mathur's days in the Gulf is a testimony that the marriage of Avocado with seafood is made in heaven. I am definitely curious about this salad though. One of these days, I am sure to ask him the recipe. When I do get the recipe, I will definitely share it with you all.

Ref. Articles

Reader's Digest (1996) Foods That Harm Foods That Heal, First Edition, Reader's Digest Association

http://www.avocado.com/site/fun-facts/avo-info/did-you-know?cat=avo-info

http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories/calorie_counter/fruit.htm