Anti-ageing butter of the Mayan Gods

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One mostly associates alligators with haunted lakes (a common Hollywood plotline), and the mere thought of the critter sends shivers running down one’s spine.

This was exactly how I felt glancing at the menu in a NY restaurant off Broadway last week. It was a warm afternoon, so I decided to have a light salad with a glass of Pino Grigio. Browsing the menu, I noticed an Alligator and Pear Salad. Confused, I asked the waiter for an explanation. Amused, he told me this was another name for the avocado. Ashamed of my limited urban vocabulary, I sheepishly ordered one of their ‘alligator’ specialties. Only after eating it, did I realise that crocs don’t always give you jitters.

Alligator and Pear Salad or Alligator Dip with Carrots. Today, let us take a dig at this special fruit. Avocado is a native of tropical America. It originated in Central America, possibly from more than one wild species. The early Spanish explorers recorded its cultivation from Mexico to Peru. It was introduced into Jamaica in 1650 and to southern Spain in 1601, reported growing in Zanzibar in 1892, first recorded in Florida in 1833 and in California in 1856.

Avocado is a nutritious fruit, and regarded as the most important contribution of the ‘New World’ to our diet. It’s relished by some people, but not by others. The pulp is rich in proteins (up to four per cent) and fat (up to 30 per cent), but low in carbohydrates. Chemically, the fat is similar to olive oil, and is used to prepare cosmetics. Avocados have the highest energy (245 cal/100 g) of any fruit, and is a reservoir of vitamins and minerals. It contains easily digestible essential fatty acids and proteins, and are an good source of iron and copper that build red blood cells.

The avocado or alligator pear is a common evergreen found in Mexico, Central and South America in over 400 varieties. It is a perfect food that replaces imperfect protein diets of meat, egg and cheese. It contains sodium and potassium which support a healthy alkaline blood balance. Because of its low sugar and lack of starch, avocado is excellent for diabetes or sugar-sensitive disorders. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, phosphorous and magnesium. They are high in vitamin E, which slows down ageing.

Picking the perfect Avocado

Buying perfect avocados can take some practice. It’s a delicate fruit. Avocados can go from perfectly ripe to over-ripe in a day. This will result in the fat becoming rancid and mushy, discoloured to an unsightly brown. I suggest you buy them unripe and allow them to ripen on the counter. Unripe avocados are dark green and hard. As they ripen, they turn greenish brown and soft. The flesh of a ripe avocado is a gorgeous lime green without any brown spots. The easiest way to remove the flesh is to cut the fruit in half, lengthwise, and twist open. The pit will remain in one side. Remove it by embedding the knife into it and twisting. Replace butter by using avocado as a spread on bread. The reason we like the taste of butter is because fat is a flavour enhancer. Avocados work in the same way.

Avocado Dressings and Dips

There are many ways to eat the avocado. The easiest is to cut it in half and sprinkle with herbal seasoning, our desi Chaat Masala or maple syrup. They get along with just about anything. Avocado dressings are remarkably flavourful. There’s nothing better than a platter full of freshly cut carrot sticks, green and red peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and mushrooms. And in the center, the smooth, seasoned avocado dip.



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First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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