Know your olive oil! Olive oil for Indian cooking?

Olives in olive oil
Olives in olive oil

Olive oil is actually the juice of the olive, and it is the only oil in the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit. Of course, we’ve all read about the benefits of olive oil, and what it can do to our skin and hair.

But do we really know how to use this oil for everyday cooking, more importantly, which grade of oil to use? 

Perhaps not, which is why even though many in the world have switched to olive oil, we’re still unsure about its usage.

Time to get educated, then… To begin with, here’s bursting the most famous olive oil myth in India: We should use Extra Virgin (EV) olive oil because it is the best!

Extra virgin olive oil: 
It is the highest grade olive oil with perfect aroma and flavour. EV oil is got from the first cold pressing of the olive  fruit within 24 hours of harvesting. It is heavy, and its viscosity is higher than other grades of olive oil and therefore, it is mainly use is for preparing cold dishes: dressing salads, pasta, rice and vegetables, meat and fish. 

Olive oil: 
This variety is a combination of refined olive oil and EV olive oil. Refined olive oil is obtained by refining oil that does not possess optimum characteristics. After refining, the oil is blended with EV oilive ol. Olive oil is an intermediate grade oil at the best. Well, not really. At least, not for preparing Indian dishes. EV olive oil may be best in flavour, but its flavour is so strong that it can change the taste of the dish! Also, deep-frying in EV olive oil is not advisable as it is heavy and viscous as compared to other grades of olive oil. Therefore, EV olive oil is suitable for only flavouring, dressings and condiments or for integrating foods – like making cold sauces, crushing ingredients and preparing Carpaccio or marinated dishes. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin-production to give taste.


So then, what is the best option? Olive pomace oil. It is the cooking grade oil, and is used all over Italy, Spain and the Mediterranean for every type of cooking. Pomace oil is not costly, is light and has neutral with medium aroma and flavour, suitable for pan and deep frying, stir-fries, sautes and stews. It is also suitable for all types of body massage. 

Olive pomace oil: 
This is the main cooking grade oil variety. It is a light oil with neutral taste and flavour and is the most suitable oil for Indian cuisine as it does not change the flavour or taste of any preparation. This oil is obtained by treating the olive residue paste (after the fruit has been pressed) with solvents to extract oil, refining and then blending this product with EV oil in order to enhance the product and its health benefits, taste and flavour.

And, this oil is ideal for cooking all types and varieties of Indian dishes. It neither changes the taste nor presents any difficulties while cooking. Indian cuisine, whether fried, roasted, ‘bhunoed’ or cooked by any other method, tastes as good with Olive Pomace oil as it does when prepared in sunflower, safflower, corn or any other oil. Also, when frying at between 130 and 190 o C, olive oil forms a crisp, golden crust making the fried food much more appetizing but without affecting its nutritional value, as the oil hardly penetrates the food, leaving it light and digestible. Each portion of this oil used for deep frying may be reused 3-4 times as long as it is filtered carefully after each use through a gauze, muslin or a suitable paper filter. 

And this one’s for those who think the oil is really costly: Yes, any grade of olive oil costs more than other edible oils. But look at it this way: It takes only 1/3rd the quantity of other edible oils to cook in olive oil, and since it has a high smoking point, it can be reused 3-4 times. Therefore, the effective cost of olive oil is 1/9th of its actual price!

Know your olive oil – The Times of India.

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