One of my most enjoyable moments is walking into the supermarket and finding the shelves stacked with fresh produce that’s not commonly available. I was absolutely delighted to find big oval green avocados neatly lined up in rows, vying for attention amidst the other fruit ! It’s not a fruit that is popular in our Indian cuisine and therefore rather hard to come by locally. My thoughts immediately went to the multitude of dishes that could be made with this ingredient . If only I had an army to feed , I would have bought half the stock available. Since that was not an option ,I had to do with just a few and quell the glutton cook in me.
Another reason that avocados are hard to come by , is that they are a highly perishable fruit ,if not picked right. These were just the right shade of dark green that felt yielded slightly to the touch. The very hard ones are not a good buy as they don’t always ripen uniformly , they tend to rot instead. It just means that they were picked prematurely. The avocados which I found were also the ‘Haas’ variety . These are the large ones that are more commonly used in Mexican cooking. There are several varities that grow all over the world . The smaller ones that grow in India aren’t as fleshy on the inside and do discolour rather quickly.
In India , it’s referred to as butterfruit by the grocers . A lot of Indians like to eat it mashed with some sugar. The pulp when ripe is as velvety smooth as butter and has the same luscious yellow tinge. Avocado being high in fat also lends the creamy richness in texture. It can literally be lifted off with a butter knife like soft butter.The fats however are all good . They are rich in monounsaturated fats , omega fatty acids , folate , Vitamin K and potassium. They are therefore extremely healthy for the heart and the brain. An avocado spread on toast is a great alternative for the bread and butter breakfast. Avocados are also greatly beneficial to the skin and are used as face packs and cleansers. In fact , in the earlier days , due to fear of the high calorie content women preferred to enjoy the cosmetic benefits of it rather than cooking with it . Now with increased awareness , the many benefits of including it in our diet is highlighted.
The ones that I brought home looked like they would be ready to eat in 48 hours and they didn’t disappoint on that account. The children waited eagerly for me to make their favourite guacamole to accompany the crispy tortilla chips. Avocados are bland in taste and therefore take well to being infused with all kinds of flavours. The classic combos are lemon , coriander , green chilli and rock salt. These zingy flavours blend beautifully into the soft avocado mash and have the salivary glands working overtime. The lemon also does the job of keeping the colour intact . The avocado flesh can discolour fast when exposed to air. Once the guacamole cravings were satiated , I decided to experiment with a salad that had been playing on my mind for awhile now. Another ingredient that I like to pair with the avocado are boiled eggs. This idea came about one morning when I served left over guacamole with boiled egg. It was such a hit. The freshness of the chunky puree’ cut through the rich yellow of the egg to perfection.
Thanks to the avocado bounty that I came across , this flavor combination was taken to the next level in the form of a wholesome salad, for dinner. A large glass platter was taken out for the salad to be arranged. Crisp iceberg lettuce leaves, tender green broccoli florets and just boiled egg rings formed the final dish.The last step is to cut open the avocado by running the blade of the knife along the length. One twist and the halves come away leaving the flesh and large seed exposed. The seed pops out quite easily. If not use your knife blade to pierce it and turn it out. The skin gives out a raspy sound as the pulp is removed. It’s a familiar sound that I love. Once the avocado joins the other ingredients, a final dressing of green chilli vinegar, lime ,salt and olive oil is whisked together and poured on top. It’s refreshing , healthy and above all delicious !
Avocados are equally popular in desserts owing to their creaminess and base flavour. Avocado ice cream and mousse are much loved variations of this versatile fruit. I do hope you try your hand at cooking with avocados . It’s a quick , easy and immensely enjoyable ingredient to work with.