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Review: Cooking with Olive Oil by Sanjeev Kapoor

Smita Mishra

Olive oil is the most fêted cooking medium of our times. Used for centuries in Mediterranean countries, where the incidence of heart ailments is lowest in the world, the oil has proved that it can actually lower bad cholesterol in the body.

With researchers from world over lauding its health benefits, it is but natural for us to feel intrigued whether it would be suitable for tropical cooking too?

After all what can please us better if we are allowed unbridled to gorge into countless samosas, jalebis, nans, dosas, bhaturas and kebabs sans guilt and inhibition?

But isn’t olive oil just good for salads only? Will it suit the Indian taste so much used to the strong mustard oil, the aromatic ghee and the soft, smooth makkhan? How will the biryani taste when coked in alien oil? Will pakoras lose their charm? And most importantly, will this oil remain stable when heated at a high temperature?

Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in his latest book ‘Cooking with Olive oil’ addresses all these issues and shows how traditional Indian recipes can be deliciously made with olive oil.

The author with the authority of an expert recommends the oil citing examples from his own experiences. “When I was posted as the Executive Chef of an Indian Restaurant in New Zealand that served international food as well, I discovered that the consumption of olive oil was quite large. And that was because the Indian cooks were using it too. The fact that there was no resistance from the patrons proved that the food did not taste any different cooked in olive oil,” says the author.

Kapoor classically describes olive oil as the one that satisfies all five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. He says that “taste is the biggest draw of this oil”.

The book has a foreword to the recipes that not only deals with every detail about the oil, but also gives valuable tips like: how to store the oil, what to do if the oil appears cloudy, what to look for while purchasing the oil and what type of containers should be used for it.

He compares olive oil with liquid gold that can be used in making not just salads, but scrumptious Palak Shorba, Tandoori Murgh Chaat, Dahi Baingan, Mirchi ka Salan, Kozhi Vartha Kari, Fish Ambotik, Kathal ki Biryani, Thepla, Kali Dal, Punjabi Kadhi, Balushahi or Besan ke Laddoo…to name a few.

Kapoor also dispels fears of readers by explaining in detail the various types of olive oils and their impact on our health. He tells you not just about the virtues of the different varieties, but also the types that are the best suitable for Indian cooking and the reason that makes them so.

Cooking with Olive Oil is a perfect guide for Indian readers, who want to know everything about this healthy ‘foreign oil’. The recipes are delicious, simple and drawn from every region of the country.

Educate yourself through the book, try out every given recipe, and make a welcome difference to your health and that of your family.

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