Monday, June 02, 2008

Goodness of Olive Oil

It's been almost three years since I switched to olive oil (extra-virgin olive oil) for my cooking. It stimulates taste and goes an extra mile than the regular cooking oil to provide benefit to your health. However, when I go to the store to buy a bottle of olive oil, I am bombarded with a variety of types and colors. I am sure many would have faced the same situation. I thought it would be good to share (based on my experience) and provide an explanation of some of the typical varieties you might find — and a note about which type to choose.

Olive oils do not differ in the types or amount of fats they contain — all are pressed from tree-ripened olives. The differences lie mainly in the taste, aroma, and concentration of nutrients. Here's the breakdown:

Extra-virgin olive oil: This is the oil which is widely recommended. It comes from the first pressing of the olives, so it's the least refined and therefore has the highest level of antioxidants. It's also the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil, with the lowest acid content.
Virgin olive oil: This comes from the second pressing of the olives and has an acidity of between one and three percent.
Light and extra-light olive oil: This is simply a designation used by companies to market a less flavorful, more acidic type of oil. The term "light" means lighter in color and fragrance, not less fat or calories. These oils are generally between 90 and 95 percent refined olive oil and 5 to 10 percent virgin olive oil. They have had their color, taste, and fragrance removed by the refining process (using a chemical, usually hexane, and steam). This process also destroys the phytochemicals and antioxidants in the oil.
Organic Olive Oil: Olive oil is obtained from the fruit of the olive tree, a traditional crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils. It is rich in vitamins A, D, K and especially E. In the sixth century BC the Etruscans used Olive oil to make cosmetics; the Egyptians used it as an anti-aging anti-wrinkle lotion, mixing it with milk, cypress berries, wax and incense grains. Down through the ages it has also been used for medicinal purposes, to disinfect and to assist in the healing of sores.

Homer called it 'liquid gold'. Medicinal, magical, and fascinating since time immemorial, olive oil has been more than mere food. Olive oil has brought about the high life expectancy and low rates of cardiac disease of the Mediterranean people. Today, it is universally accepted as the healthiest of all edible oils. Adding olive oil to your diet is the easiest change you can make towards a healthier lifestyle.

Benefits of Olive Oil:
  • It decreases the level of cholesterol and prevents arteriosclerosis.
  • It prevents high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • It regulates the digestion system by protecting against gastritis and ulcer.
  • It prevents the possibility of formation of gall bladder stones.

I would like to share with you one of the special recipe enjoyed by members of my family.

Paneer Tikka

( Serves 4 )

  • 300 gm paneer- cut into 1½ ” squares of 1” thickness
  • 1 large capsicum – deseeded and cut into 1” pieces (12 pieces)
  • 1 onion – cut into 4 pieces and then separated
  • ½ cup dahi – hang in a muslin cloth fir 15 minutes
  • 3 tbsp thick malai or thick cream
  • A few drops of orange colour or a pinch of haldi (turmeric)
  • 1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp (level) cornflour
  • ½ tsp amchoor, ½ tsp kala namak, ¾ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp tandoori masala
  • 1” piece ginger, 5-6 flakes garlic
  • 2 dried, whole red chillies- soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained.
  • Hang curd in a muslin cloth for 15 minutes.
  • Drain soaked red chillies. Grind ginger, garlic and red chillies to a paste.
  • To the ginger-garlic-chilli paste, add hung dahi, cream or malai, 1 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp cornflour, amchoor, salt, kala namak, tandoori masala, colour or haldi and paneer. Mix well.
  • Brush the wire rack (grill) of the oven generously with Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Arrange paneer on a greased wire rack of the oven or on the skewers. After all the paneer pieces are done, put the capsicum and onions- both together in the left over marinade and mix well to coat the vegetables with the marinade. Leave the vegetables in the bowl itself.
  • At the time of serving, put the paneer pieces placed on the greased wire rack in the hot oven at about 200°C. Grill till almost done, for about 15 minutes. Grill the paneer till it gets dry and starts getting crisp. Sprinkle some Extra-virgin olive oil on the paneer pieces. Now remove the vegetables from the bowl and put them also in the oven on the sides of the paneer.
  • Grill everything together for another 5 minutes. The vegetables should not be grilled for too long.
  • Remove from the oven. Serve immediately (really hot), sprinkled with some lemon juice and chaat masala.

1 comment:

Amaryllis said...

People should read this.