Thursday, June 30, 2011

Marwari Pyaaz Ka Achaar & Olive Oil Tasting - Oliveitup!

The Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVC) on successful completion of one year,  has launched a promotional campaign called Oliveitup for the promotion of premium olive oil in India. The consortium aims at creating awareness and knowledge of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), while ensuring quality. As part of the awareness campaign, the consortium conducts press conferences, advertising campaigns, training sessions and media tours.  A press conference and an olive oil tasting session and a cooking demo by Chef Vicky Ratnani was held at The Oberoi, Bangalore. Italian expert Mr. Michele Labarile, gave an insight into tasting and recognizing quality of EVOO.  We ate some delicious Root Vegetable Tikki and Peach and Bell pepper Chutney after Chef's demo of the same. 

Brace yourself for a really lengthy read, but I guess, it wont be just to put any less information here:-)

Olive oil is extracted from freshly picked olives and cold pressed in controlled conditions, without chemical treatment, hence retaining all the essential fats. The light green color is due to the chlorophyll. Olive pomace oil is a refined version of olive oil, which does not provide the same benefits.
Though Olive oil is regarded as one of the healthiest oils and is slowly gaining entry into Indian kitchens, it is still regarded as an oil which is not suitable for Indian cooking. While we are open to the idea of using olive oil in salads, pastas and the kind, we are yet to accept it in our everyday traditional cooking.  We are used to cooking with either flavorless oils like sunflower, rice bran or canola while the usage of oil like mustard, coconut, sesame and groundnut is restricted to certain dishes or cultures only. With us Indians having a food culture with generous usage of fat and sugar, the rates of us being affected with lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cardiac problems are very high.  Small wonder we as a nation top the charts when it comes to cardiac problems and diabetes.  It was very interesting to note that more than the quantity of fat, its the quality of fat which gives rise to undesirable effects.

Ms.Ishi Khosla, one of India's renowned nutritionists gave an extremely insightful presentation on the health benefits of olive oil.  The below information is from her presentation.

She described the French and Spanish paradox which highlights low incidence of cardio vascular diseases in the French population despite the high intake of saturated fats, which are proven to be harmful for health. The population here consumed olive oil extensively which gave rise to the theory of importance of quality of fats over quantity. The people here consumed significantly more  of Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA)  than  Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA).
Now in a nutshell, MUFA is good fat,  SFA is bad and then there is PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) and then  there are transfats which are the big bad guys, you want to interact with minimally. They are the good, bad and the ugly.  All oils contain all of these fats and are classified according to the high presence of the fats.  For example, Olive oil has very high presence of MUFA, hence it falls under the category of MUFA.  But that doesn't mean we have to totally eliminate all the other kinds of fat from our diet.
  • SFAs are ghee, butter, lard and coconut(!!) . According to National Cholesterol Education Programme, This should constitute less than 10% of your total energy intake in a day.
  • MUFAs are Olive oil,  canola,  rice bran,  mustard,  groundnut and sesame (yes!) . This should be 10-12% of total energy intake.
  • PUFA are safflower, kardi, corn and to my surprise sunflower and soybean oil too. This should be less than 7% of total energy.
  • Trans fats are vanaspati - stay away!!! This goes very generously into baked goods like our much loved puffs.  

The benefits  of  MUFA are
  • Increases good cholesterol
  • Reduces bad cholesterol
  • Lowers oxidation and rancidity
Excessive PUFA
    • Lowers Bad cholesterol
    • Lowers good cholesterol too!
    • Increased risk of gall stones
    • Increases oxidation and rancidity
    • Increases glucose intolerance
           The USP of olive oil is its
    • High MUFA and low SFA content, hence lowering risk of heart diseases.
    • Has high amount of essential fats and nutrients as its cold pressed.
    • Its cold pressed, retaining all the goodness as opposed to refined oils which are extracted at high temperatures. Refined oils produce hexane, a carcinogenic substance during the process of extraction.
    • High heat resistance, high smoking point. The high smoking point makes it ideal for frying food.
    • No transfats
    • Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) without lowering the good cholesterol
    • Anti thrombotic - prevents formation of clots
    • Anti inflammatory
    • Reduces hypertension
    • Beneficial for diabetics
    • Helps improve immunity
    • Delays ageing
    • Anti cancer
    • Enhances brain function
    To sum up, EVOO is indeed suitable for cooking, deep frying and raw use as well. Its absolutely perfect for usage in traditional Indian food. Its very flavorful and viscous hence necessitating less consumption while cooking.  More information on the health benefits of olive oil, recipes can be found on their website specially launched for this purpose,

    All said, it would not be wrong to say, any oil, even a healthy one, is still oil, hence beneficial only when consumed moderately. 

    Coming to the Marwari Pyaaz Ka Achaar, Sneha, a good friend of mine, has been using EVOO in her everyday traditional Marwari cooking since quite some time. I have eaten (alright, overeaten) some superb Marwari fare at her place quite a number of times. I wanted to know from her, if there was any particular traditional recipe she loves using EVOO in. A dish which normally is made with a lot of oil. 'Pyaaz Ka Achaar' - came the instant reply and the recipe. Err.. how much of all the spices? She very graciously invited me home (and I jumped at the chance!) for breakfast followed by a session of making the Achaar. After a scrumptious breakfast including Makai Ka Dalia (oh, I LOVE that porridge), we were all set to make the pickle.

    Tongue tickling Pyaaz ka Achaar is sliced onion marinated in oil and spices like kalonji, jeera, saunf, chilli powder and salt. The onions are not washed as it introduces water content in the pickle.  Traditionally a pickle commonly stored in Marwari homes, its specially made for long journeys or while traveling. This pickle can be made in absolutely no time at all and keeps well at room temperature for 2-3 days. Another interesting thing to note here is the remnant oil in the pickle can be topped with more sliced onion and spices if needed. There you get more pickle with about the same oil! And the taste is just too good! Here is how Sneha made this. 

    You will need
    3-4 onions (to make 2 cups of sliced onion)
    EVOO - 1/2 to 3/4 cup
    Roasted fennel (saunf) powder - 1 1/2 teaspoon
    Red chilli powder - 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons
    Cumin / Jeera - 1/2 teaspoonHing - a generous pinch
    Ground mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
    Kalonji ( Nigella/onion seeds) - 1/4 teaspoon
    Mustard - 1/2 teaspoon
    Salt to taste

    Procedure: DO NOT wash the onion. Just remove the outer few layers of the peel. Slice them thin. This made 2 cups of sliced onion. Place the sliced onion in a bowl. The bowl should be big enough to easily mix the pickle in. Put the salt, red chilli powder, fennel powder, mustard powder and hing on top of the sliced onion. Heat half the oil, pour it on the sliced onion.

    Check how much more you would need to mix in the sliced onions. Heat the rest of the oil or the needed quantity. Add the mustard, jeera and kalonji. Pour it on the onion mixture. Mix well. That's it!!

    You could also just put the said spices on the sliced onion, heat ALL the oil with the tempering and pour it on the onion. Only doing it in 2 additions helps if you would want to use less or more oil. The onion will also shrink by the next day. So you could use less oil if you so plan to eat it the next day or the next. You could also try using baby onions.

    You could eat the pickle right away, but the flavors get enhanced by the day. And you could always top up with more sliced onion and spices once the entire pickle is over. Do spoon out the dry spices which tend to settle at the bottom when you eat.

    We ate the pickle with khakra and it was fantastic! It tastes even better the next day.  Thanks Sneha for sharing this traditional family recipe, made healthier with the use of EVOO.


    Smita Srivastava said...

    Wow ...the pickle sounds so wonderful , sure to try this one !!

    Indian Khana said...

    This looks super delicious ...nice pics

    Divya Kudua said...

    Pyaaz ka achaar looks delicious and not to forget,healthy too what with Olive Oil added.Lucky you to be part of the taste testing event!!

    Unknown said...

    wow, that is amazing and I am soooooooo drooling over it.

    Priya Suresh said...

    OMg, fingerlicking achaar, simply inviting and droolworthy..

    Rookie Qookie said...

    Wow..u guys really have a great time in blore :) Enjaiii

    kankana said...

    This is fantastic! When I tell my Mom i cook with olive oil .. she gets a shock because we used to use it as body oil that too very rarely and now I tell them about extra virgin olive oil and how I love to cook with it. This is an excellent post :)

    divya said...

    This looks super delicious ...nice pics

    swapna said...

    Super delicious pickle....

    Charishma said...

    i cannot believe i missed this blog,its amazing.i dream to be a baker someday.your blog motivates me,iam from bangalore too and i wanted to ask where you get good brown sugar in bangalore.
    iam an amateaur blogger
    will try out your cakes for sure

    Shubha said...

    that was a very useful info about the the oil. onion pickle looks absolutely yummy.....

    Rajani said...

    Pyaaz ka achar..droooool.. super. I meant to attend the Olive it up session at The Oberoi but could'nt make it. So nice to see your write up of the event - well summarised, succint. Would love to meet up with you sometime.

    jason said...

    The post is very nice. The Pyaaz ka achaar is very delicious to look at. Thank you for sharing the ingredients and recipe of this dish. Hope your next recipe will publish soon.