The Awesome Avocado!

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Avocado is a superfood known for its numerous qualities and health benefits and provides the body with a complete balance of various essential nutrients and antioxidants. Extremely nutritious, this fruit with its dark green knobby skin, buttery texture, and fresh, mild taste has a surprisingly rich & creamy heritage. Originating from Mexico its widely used in America, Spain, and in a number of delicacies across the globe. While avocados have been a staple globally, they have recently been trending with the fashionable health conscious set in India!

Health benefits of Avocado:

  • Aids in digestion & weight management
  • Rich in anti-aging & antioxidant properties
  • Good for the eyes & brain
  • Helps treat vitamin K deficiency
  • Reduces inflammation in tissues, muscles & joints
  • Good for the skin, helps keeping it glowing
  • A compound called beta-sitosterol in avocados has been found to help with cholesterol levels
  • Helps detoxifying the body
  • Good source of potassium & folate
  • Good immunity boosting ingredient

How to prepare an Avocado to use?

  • Always choose a firm avocado while purchasing it, do not go for the very soft and mushy ones.
  • Avoid the ones with bruises or cuts on the skin or surface.
  • Handle them with care and prepare them just close to use as far as possible to prevent oxidation.
  • Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, wrap them in kitchen towels/cling wrap.
  • Peel them, remove the stone carefully and handle the flesh with care, sprinkle fresh lime juice on them to maintain their colour and a dash of salt to keep up the bite in it.
  • Olive oil goes well with avocado when it comes to salads or tossing them up in a dip or salsa.

Uses of Avocado in the Kitchen
Avocados are versatile as a fruit, they are delicious in salads, sandwiches, tacos, soups, and in dips like the most popular guacamole! In India, we don’t really use it in local recipes or cuisine, but yes as a chef I have tried to experiment and used it with chicken tikka on a canapé with a pesto chutney and also tried a chilled pasta salad adding the avocado with a dash of chaat masala and tamarind chutney for the spike !

Some popular dishes with Avocado also include:

  • Avocado & sun dried tomato bruschetta
  • Avocado & roast chicken salad
  • Chilled avocado soup with olives and flaxseeds
  • Lime & avocado hummus with burnt garlic toasties
  • Baked avocado mash with browned onions and sweet potatoes
  • Avocado and arugula lettuce wraps with virgin olive oil and eggplant dip
  • Avocado oil is also a good option to use in preparing healthy dips, dressing, spreads and marinations for chicken or fish for grilling.

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes with this wonder food!

Recipe – 1  Ambrosial Avocado Dip

Ingredients

  • Boiled chickpeas/ kabuli chana – 1cup
  • Ripe, peeled avocado – 2nos
  • Tahini – 2tbsp
  • Mint leaves – 8 to 10 nos
  • Lime juice – 1tbsp
  • Chaat masala – ½ tsp
  • Garlic – 1tsp chopped
  • Roasted cumin powder – ½ tsp
  • Olive oil – 3 to 4tbsp

To serve with:

  • Vegetable sticks – Carrots/radish/cucumber/celery
  • Crackers – Wholewheat/savoury/lavash etc.
  • Toasted brown bread/ fancy shaped breads

Method

  • Prepare all the ingredients as listed for this dip
  • Using a clean blender jar, combine all the ingredients in the jar
  • Using olive oil and a few drops of chilled water blend well
  • Check for seasonings
  • Remove into serving bowls
  • Drizzle some olive oil on top
  • Garnish with chilli flakes/fresh herbs/crushed black pepper/ parsley/chaat masala/sliced olives
  • Serve the dip chilled with the accompaniments

Chefs variations 

  • Try adding sun-dried tomatoes in the same dip for some flavour.
  • Toasted white sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds can also add a crunch in the dip.
  • This dip can be served with grilled chicken skewers/ saluted prawns and fish steaks as well.
  • To add a little more excitement, add a spoonful of mayonnaise/cream cheese and blend it well in the same recipe.

Recipe – 2  Heavenly Avocado Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Avocados – 2 ripe, peeled and stoned
  • Mint leaves – 8 to 10 nos
  • Cucumber – 1no, peeled and cubed
  • Kiwi fruit – 1no, peeled and cut
  • Honey – 1tbsp
  • Dates – 3 to 4 chopped
  • Soy milk – 2 cups
  • Cinnamon pwd – 1 pinch
  • Chia seeds -1tsp for garnish

Method

  • Prepare all the ingredients as per the recipe
  • Chill all the ingredients well before blending
  • Using a clean mixer jar combine all ingredients
  • Blend to a smooth mix, add crushed ice if desired
  • Check for sweetness and adjust as needed
  • Pour the smooth mixture into tall glasses
  • Sprinkle a little cinnamon powder and chia seeds for garnish
  • Serve immediately

Chefs variations

  • Use regular milk if desired.
  • Sweeteners are optional, Stevia may be used if needed.
  • Bananas are mostly used in smoothie concepts.
  • Try the similar recipe adding berries of your choice.
  • Apricots/almonds/walnuts and raisins also add a nice taste into these health shakes.
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A passionate, committed, and competent chef who was awarded the prestigious Bharat Vidya Ratan Award received in 2019 and the Best Chef Asia award received in February 2020, the field of culinary and hospitality education. He has worked with the Taj group of hotels and Kuwait Airways, is considered to be a culinary guru, mentor, and has been an academician in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. He has a few books to his credit like Arabic cookery, Filipino Cookery, 100 ways with Fusion Foods, Lockdown Cooking, Quarantine Memories with Food, and the most awaited Life of a Hotel Management Student. He says "I want to be known as one who could always do something different with a touch of class and a twist of taste".