Sat10252014

Food & Wine

Enjoy a fresh Indian take on guacamole

Freshly made guacamole easily finds a place in Indian cuisine, swapping tortilla chips for crispy pappadums. The golden, crunchy rounds, often served as an appetizer here in California, are typically made of lentils, black gram or chickpea flour. At home, prepare a store-bought packet of pappadums by frying in hot oil, roasting on a gas stove or heating in the microwave oven.

My version of guacamole is reminiscent of a thick chutney that is not only delicious, but also loaded with nutritious monounsaturated fat. Avocados provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid.

I also add curry powder and garam masala and give the dish a light tempering with mustard and cumin seeds. Some of the most common ingredients in curry powder include turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and cardamom.

The key to making the perfect guacamole is to keep tasting as you add ingredients and adjust according to your palate.

A few useful hints: Use fresh, ripe avocados – if the avocado is very dark green (nearly brown), it’s probably too ripe to use and will get mushy once you open it. Red onions are the way to go, especially for Indian guacamole. Freshly chopped green cilantro, lime or lemon juice and green chili enhance the flavors, but you can omit the chili if you are afraid of spices. The curry powder and garam masala compensate well for the chili and provide great flavor while giving it the signature Indian zing and taste.

Serve this simple and tasty appetizer with a glass of crisp white wine to give your cocktail party that added pizzazz.

Gitika Baveja is author of “Indian Flavors to Savor: The Easy Home-Cooked Way.” For more recipes and to order a cookbook, visit flavorstosavor.com.

Indian Guacamole

• 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed with fork

• 1/4 small red onion, chopped

• Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

• Pinch of salt

• Pinch of garam masala

• 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste

• 1 small tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

• 1/2 green chili, finely chopped (optional)

• 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

• 1/2 teaspoon black whole mustard seeds

• 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

In small bowl, combine chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, green chili and avocado. Give a generous squeeze or two from lime or lemon. Add salt, garam masala and curry powder. Stir, check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Heat oil in small saucepan, add mustard and cumin seeds and cover over medium heat until seeds pop, 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into guacamole. Serve immediately with pappadums.

Note: Pappadums, or papad, left, are a delicious traditional Indian crispy snack available at Indian grocery stores; cook according to package directions. You can heat pappadums in the microwave for 1 minute – they taste as good as fried but are a much more healthful alternative. Pappadums are sold in different flavors – I prefer the plain udad lentil ones for this guacamole recipe.

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