One of the advantages of living in Bangalore (apart from the weather, that is) is that we do get a steady supply of good quality avocados here. They are also called butter fruit locally, because the pulp is like butter when mashed. Although high in calories, the fruit is packed with 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that it is considered a nutrient-dense food. It also has a very low glycemic index (GI) making is suitable for diabetics.
For the longest time, I was an avocado ignoramus. It's almost impossible to find perfectly ripe avocados in the supermarket. The ones I would buy would be hard as nails. I would put them in the fridge only to be discarded in a week. And then, I learnt from a friend on how to get perfectly ripe avocados. Wrap each one in a newspaper and place it in a fruit basket with apples, bananas or any other fruits (ripe bananas and apples release ethylene which naturally ripens the avocados). Each day, check on the fruit by lightly pressing it, once the flesh feels a little soft and yielding, it is ripe for use. At this point you can either use it straight away or refrigerate it for 1-2 days and use it. Do remember to keep checking though, or you could end up with an overripe mess in the fruit basket, if you let things go too far.
Now that life has given you a perfectly ripe avocados, here are a few delicious ways you can use it.
1. Guacamole - A universally loved Mexican dip, a healthy partner to chips, I can go through a big bowl of this even before someone says 'guacamole'. Traditionally made with a mortar-pestle, it goes well with chips of any kind, and as a condiment with quesadillas.
Mash up avocado with a fork, immediately adding some lemon juice to retain its green colour. Add salt, cumin powder and mix well. Fold in finely chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander, jalapeños. Top with some more lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Serve with chips.
2. Salad - Avocados go well in any green salad, but especially so in a Mexican style corn and bean salad, where you can use cooked corn kernels, cooked beans, onions, tomatoes, coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, jalapeños and lots of lemon juice. Toss in diced avocados coated with lemon juice towards the end. You can eat this by itself, or as a salsa or to top nachos.
3. Smoothies - Green smoothies are the current rage. Adding half an avocado to your green smoothie gives you a boost of healthy fats, while making the smoothie creamy and thick. A good combination of ingredients to go with this is frozen banana, avocado, vanilla flavoured whey protein or yogurt and honey for a sweet smoothie. A savoury smoothie would work well too - just blend avocado, diced cucumber, mint, ginger, salt and yogurt with ice.
4. Avocado and eggs - Instead of the regular egg salad sandwich, try the egg avocado sandwich. Toss chopped boiled eggs in mashed and seasoned avocados, use as a sandwich filling. Creamy mashed avocado can also be used as a filling for devilled eggs.
5. Avocado on toast - This Smørrebrød inspired open sandwich has mashed avocado on whole grain bread with a few other toppings to make a quick healthy snack or a dainty brunch item.
Recipe for Avocado on Toast
Time taken: Under 15 minutes
4 slices of bread, whole grain or rye
3 garlic cloves
1 ripe avocado
pinch of salt
3-4 pickled gherkins, sliced (or use sliced olives)
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp feta cheese
few fresh mint leaves
Toast the slices of bread either in a toaster, oven or on a skillet over low flame until crisp and golden. Cut each into two halves.
Rub one side of the toasted bread, when still hot, with the garlic clove.
Scoop out half a ripe avocado in a small bowl, add lemon juice, salt and mash with a fork.
Spread this over the garlic rubbed side of the toasts.
Top with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced gherkins/olives, mint leaves and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.