Home Lifestyle Olive oil not just for salads & pasta!

Olive oil not just for salads & pasta!


21 Mar 2013-Kavita Devgan speaks to chefs and homemakers to find out how to make the most of extra virgin olive oil.

I travelled to Italy last November and what a trip it was! I prayed at The Vatican, experienced the warmth of strong family ties at local homes and checked out the latest fashion trends on the streets of Rome. But my senses were busy soaking up the taste, aroma and flavour of olive oil, everywhere, and all the time.

After all, olive oil is the Mediterranean’s biggest export to the world, and in Italy they do almost all their cooking with it. Being a nutritionist and health writer, I’m familiar with the benefits of this oil, particularly the extra virgin variety (EVOO). But the big revelation was the discovery that it is compatible with the Indian-style of cooking. A finding that turned my earlier belief – that it is only suitable for pouring over salads – upside down.

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‘EVOO has a wonderful flavour and texture, it adds body and depth to a dish, and provides a pleasing feel in the mouth,says 19-year-old budding chef Ashmeet Singh Dua. He should know. His Kali Mirch Wala Mutton cooked in EVOO won him the prize at the coveted National Budding Chef Competition last year.

Chef Manu Chandra, of Olive Beach, Bengaluru likes to use EVOO in everyday cooking – for Indian and Western recipes. ‘It’s great to sear, pan-fry and bake with. You can use it like any other oil. In fact, except for deep-frying (its smoking point is low hence it is not suitable for very high heat), we use olive oil for everything else at the restaurant,he says.

Begin With Breakfast

I’d suggest you begin your day with organic sprouts and steamed corn drizzled with EVOO and some lemon,’ says Chef Anurudh Khanna, executive chef, The Park, New Delhi. ‘A piece of toasted wholewheat bread or a baguette drizzled with EVOO is perfect for me; it beats smothering your morning with butter,’ says Chef Chandra. Savoury vermicelli is a popular breakfast dish at Delhi-based model and etiquette consultant Kavita Ashok’s house. ‘I have tried it with other oils but it turns out best with extra virgin,says the home cook.

Here is her recipe: Heat a pan, add 2tbsp EVOO, some curry patta (curry leaves), black mustard seeds, hing, salt, green chillies and haldi. Fry for a few minutes. Add a few peanuts and finely chopped, parboiled veggies. Add one cup boiled vermicelli and lemon juice; check seasoning. Serve. Main Meals ‘EVOO has a neutral taste and goes best with tomatoes and most green veggies particularly French beans, cabbage and green peas. It works well when minimal cooking is required,says chef Anurudh. ‘In my house I use EVOO to cook dry vegetables such as bhindi masala and aloo gobhi. I also use it to temper dal and make paranthas.He offers a tip for those who like gunpowder with idlis; next time mix it with EVOO instead of ghee or any other oil.


EVOO is obtained from the first press of ripe olives. It has a perfect balance of flavour, aroma, colour. It has a low acidity level and is packed with polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids, both of which are heartfriendly. It is pure and does not contain any additives. That said, don’t overdo its usage as like all other fats, it also provides nine calories per gram.