Are you a fan of Indian cusine and looking for Best Olive Oil for Cooking in India? If yes, now – this is your turn to try.
Olive oil has been a staple in the kitchen for centuries, but recently has grown in its global popularity for its many health benefits, ease of use, wonderful flavour, and delicious aroma. The oil is a simple way to accentuate practically any dish with a little bit more flavour, and has become widely available in almost every country. It has purposes outside cooking as well, with many using it for skin and haircare, herbal oil blends, and even for cleaning furniture.
The oil itself is also pretty affordable, depending on which kind of olive oil you want to use. There are several kinds of olive oil – differentiated by the process of extraction from the olive fruits themselves, the type of olives, how mature the olives are when they are harvested for oil, and the region the olive oil is from. All of these factors affect the taste and quality of the olive oil, and also what kind of cooking it is best used for.
What are the different kinds of olive oils?
When buying olive oil for cooking purposes, it is important to keep an eye out for the type of olive oil specified on the label of the bottle. There are five main kinds of olive oil, and all of them vary in flavour and quality.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
This olive oil is widely considered the most flavourful and high-quality. For the best taste, the olives are usually harvested earlier in their life-cycle, while they are still a somewhat light green colour. When olives oxidize, they begin to turn a darker colour – from green to a deep purple. They lose their green at peak ripeness, but all the stages in the olive’s ripening change the flavour of the oil they produce.
Extra virgin olive oil is extracted through cold-pressing, which was historically done by hand. Now, most extra virgin olive oil brands will use simple machinery to puncture large batches of the fresh olives, extracting all of the liquid at once. The oil is then separated from the rest of the liquid and immeditately packaged, leaving this oil with the most natural and light flavour. This oil works well in dishes or sauces with fresh ingredients served cold, so that it’s flavour can be fully appreciated.
Virgin Olive Oil
This olive oil is just as popular as extra-virgin, and is also unrefined – meaning the oil is not processed any further than necessary in the extraction process. It also uses the cold-press method; however, virgin olive oil is slightly lower in quality for a few reasons. While extra-virgin has the lowest acidity, virgin has a slightly higher free acid content. It may also be because the olives themselves were a lower quality due to being riper, bruised, or processed more than once. Virgin olive oil is often used for sautéing and searing food, though it works just as well as a topping or dressing on cooked or fresh dishes.
Both virgin and extra-virgin olive oil have low smoking points though, which means they may ruin a dish if used for deep frying or a long cook.
Refined Olive Oil
What happens to the olives who matured too quickly to be used for virgin or extra-virgin olive oil? When the colour on the fruits begins to darken to a red and then purple, they are used for refined olive oil. While it has the same amount of fat and calories, the free acidity in refined olive oil is much lower, and the flavour much blander.
Because it is more difficult to extract oil from the riper olives, a solvent is usually added to the olives after they have been crushed into a paste to get more oil from it. The oil must be refined afterwards.
Despite being a lower quality, refined olive oil is much better to blend with other oils and spices to boost flavour. It also has a higher smoking point, which makes it more useful in Indian cooking preparations like deep frying.
Pure Olive Oil
Pure olive oil is not pure at all – it is actually a blend of the other three kinds of olive oils. This type of olive oil makes use of the other types’ waste. When the oil extracted from the previous three methods are not as expected, they are then mixed together and labelled ‘Pure Olive Oil’.
Pomace Olive Oil
This oil is extracted from the mixed remains of crushed olives after they have been through an extraction process. The olive fruits, left in a paste, are immersed in a solvent, refined to get rid of the solvent, and mixed with virgin olive oil to improve its quality.
Benefits of Olive Oil in Indian Cooking
Now that you know what kind of olive oils you can use to cook with in India, all the possibilities for making delicious dishes with the oil can be explored.
Frying with Olive Oil is Made Easy
Many Indian dishes use oil for deep-frying or shallow frying, and the olive oils with higher smoking points, like refined and pomace olive oil, do great for this. Olive oil doesn’t soak into food as much as other kinds do – meaning that a golden crunchy exterior can be maintained for much longer.
Dressings and Sauces Are Made Better
Another innovative and simple trick is to use the lower quality types of olive oils as a base for a spice blend. Virgin olive oil is wonderful for mixing with powdered spices like cayenne pepper, cloves, garlic, turmeric, and more. Whether it be heated up and poured over warm food like tofu, chicken, and veggies, or cold food like salads, flavoured olive oil will make practically any dish more delicious.
They are also great to add to marinades or spread over meat as it cooks, to retain moisture and texture in the meat.
Adding a Savoury Touch to Baked Goods
Olive oil’s uses are not just for meat and vegetables. The oil also works well in many baked goods, with a taste that compliments both sweet and savoury, as well as the benefit of adding moisture. Whether the dessert is fried or baked, a touch of olive oil can be added to practically any dough to enhance the texture and flavour.
Making the Most Out of a Little
Often times, large batches of oil are reused, and especially while deep-frying. Frying just a few things in a pot of oil won’t ruin the taste or quality of the dish, but practically it is a good standard in the kitchen not to use too much oil in any way.
While ghee is a great ingredient to use for food preparation, many want to use an oil instead. Pomace olive oil, with its neutral taste and lightness, is the perfect choice for such a method of cooking. It is not expensive at all, but can be a good reminder to use oil in moderation when cooking.
Extra-virgin olive oil, while more expensive, is also a wonderful substitute for ghee and butter when you want a slightly more savoury, fatty, and nutty taste to the dish. A little bit of olive oil can stretch a long way; there’s no need to pour too much at once.
Now, the question is what is the Health Benefits of Olive oil in case of cooking food?
Depending on which olive oil you want to use the most, you could also passively receive health benefits from adding it to dishes. Some people like to drink plain extra-virgin olive oil, simply for its richness in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities of olive oil help with preventing heart disease, strokes, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and perhaps even Alzheimer’s.
Any Difficulties Using Olive Oil in Indian Cooking?
Many kinds of olive oil have a low smoking point, especially extra-virgin and virgin. This makes it difficult to use them for cooking methods like sautéing and frying.
And while it is best to use in moderation, olive oil can be reused if it hasn’t been heated past its smoking point, and is still mostly clear and similar in colour. However, it needs the added step of filtering before being cooked with again.
It also has many nutrients – but don’t think you should throw out your ghee and replace it with olive oil. Ghee is most likely just as nutritional, and many may prefer its flavour and use over olive oil.
The Best Olive Oil to Use in India
Though every kind of olive oil has its use and unique benefits, pomace olive oil is king when it comes to Indian cuisine. Some may think that because it is a lower quality it is not as useful, but the opposite is true. Pomace olive oil’s properties of light flavour and a high smoking point allow for it to be used in many different ways, and is most suitable for traditional Indian cooking methods.
It can be even be mixed with pure, virgin, or extra-virgin olive oil for added flavour, but it does the best job of taking on the already delicious flavours of the original dish’s ingredients. It also is the least expensive olive oil, and the easiest to find.