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Now Serving: Aloo Paranthas in Olive Oil

Aloo paranthas form staple breakfast meals in most Punjabi households.

Written by Jagmeeta Thind Joy |
November 6, 2011 3:44:11 am

Aloo paranthas form staple breakfast meals in most Punjabi households. Traditionally made in desi ghee and served with dollops of butter and oodles of love,paranthas are the first item to be ticked off on a dietician’s chart recommending a lifestyle change. It was no different for the Sekhon family in Sector 34,who relished paranthas everyday. So when the lady of the house,Preeti,and her businessman husband,Gurdeep,were told to skip the early morning indulgence after being diagnosed with high cholesterol,the family was visibly upset.

“My in-laws and children loved paranthas and being Punjabis,we couldn’t think of cereal-toast as a breakfast alternative ,” says Preeti,who decided to find a way around it. Today,paranthas are still served on the Sekhon dining table,but are laced with olive oil. “Initially,I was apprehensive about olive oil as I thought it goes well only with foreign fare,” admits Preeti,who sought advice from a friend who conducts culinary workshops. “I also make sure that I cook all vegetables in extra virgin olive oil. While the paranthas now taste slightly different,so far we are liking the switch,” quips Sekhon.

Though refined oil being swapped for olive oil is not an entirely new phenomenon in Indian kitchens,the number of people choosing to make the switch for a healthier alternative is increasing in Chandigarh. “Earlier,there would be one odd request a week to stock on olive oil but now,I sell at least three to four litres in a day,” says Ram Krishna,who owns a grocery store in the Sector 44 market.

Though steeper in price,compared to refined oil — a litre of olive oil is priced at Rs 450 while refined oil is for Rs 140 a litre,the price doesn’t work as a deterrent. “It’s all about how you cook. Since I do all the cooking myself,a litre lasts us long,sometimes all through the month,” adds Neha Mahajan,a kindergarten teacher. And she’s using it all for cooking everyday ghar ka khaana. “We usually dine out when in the mood for Continental or Oriental meals. At home,it’s all desi meals. Even the dal tadka tastes better with olive oil,” she adds.

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The swanky and spacious kitchen of homemaker Geetika Sood is always bursting with activity and a melange of aromas. Barbeque masala fish,risotto,creamy chicken soup,baked bananas,pahadi khana — the 27-year-old mostly has her hands full hosting special meals for close friends. With a diploma in French cuisine from the Le Cordon Bleu,Sood loves to give basic recipes a new twist,be it the ingredients,presentation,method or garnish.

“I’m not a nervous chef,’’ she says. While there’s always something new cooking,Sood’s meals are incomplete without garlic,clove,basil,peppers and olive oil. “While the flavours in French and Continental cooking are enhanced when cooked in extra virgin olive oil,for most traditional Indian food,and even everyday cooking,I use olive oil nine times out of 10,” says Sood,adding,“The absorption of the oil is

better,” she adds,mentioning how the dal-khichdi tempering with whole red chillies and hing in olive oil is always a hit with her guests.

However,for those debating the use of olive oil for Indian cooking,restaurateur and chef Sanjiv Verma,who runs the popular Khyber restaurant in Sector 35,offers a word of caution. “Olive oil has to be used judiciously,do not heat it over its smoking point,as it burns easily to leave the food unpleasant,” he says.

The increasing preference towards food cooked in olive oil made Ankit Sharma,Chef de Cuisine at JW Marriott’s new Indian restaurant,Saffron,spend a month taking a culinary tour of the region before putting together non-greasy versions. “We use olive oil for stir-fries as guests are increasingly aware about its health benefits and also to showcase that Indian food can taste the same with less oil or healthier alternatives,” sums up Sharma.

With inputs from Parul

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