Saturday, Dec 16, 2017 | Last Update : 03:05 AM IST
Don’t be afraid of artichokes says Fareeda Kanga. They aren’t as exotic as they seem and are fairly versatile to cook.
Our Indian diet is packed with root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions but ARTICHOKES? Yes, this extremely western veggie is slowly creeping into fancy restaurant menus. Artichokes look intimidating, more like flowers than veggies but are actually extremely easy to incorporate in everyday menus. Baking, steaming, grilling are options as well as some of the unusual ideas we have as you read on.
Anatomy of an artichoke
Originally from the Mediterranean, the artichoke is a perennial thistle and technically a flower that hasn't bloomed. Known for their strong aphrodisiac powers women were banned from eating them in the 16th century! In Vietnam, Artichoke leaves are ground and made into tea.
Selection and storage
If it ain’t heavy it ain’t fresh! Yes, pick up the artichokes and feel the weight. The heaviest and firmest ate the freshest. Artichokes must have a healthy green colour, compact center leaves and an overall look of freshness (not dehydrated).
Store in the fridge by slicing off a centimeter from the stem, sprinkle the raw artichoke stems with water and refrigerate them in an airtight plastic bag. It’s best to cook them within five to seven days after you buy them.
Nutritional benefits of Artichokes
At 25 calories and virtually fat-free, they are a dieters dream. Boil, steam or pressure-cook these beauties and you will also end up with loads of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. The extract of these leaves also exhibit anticarcinogenic, antioxidative, antibacterial properties.
Cooking with Artichokes
There are many ways to cook with artichokes — In fact they can even be eaten raw.
At a restaurant in Mumbai, Chef Rishim Sachdeva has added some exceptional treats on his new menu using artichokes. “I like to make a caramelised puree with artichokes which we cook for 3 to 4 hours and run down with whey which creates a spectacular tart flavour. Another unique way of cooking them is to make a pickle with thinly sliced artichoke and aromatics like fennel, green pepper corn. This goes well with meats and fish,” he adds Remember artichokes are best slow cooked not best for flash frying.
Water as required
Olive oil 5ml
Take the flour and add little tepid water with yeast, salt and olive oil. Knead into a dough careful not to work it too much. Rest it in the fridge for 12 hours and let it prove slowly. Take the pizza dough, dust some flour on the work surface, knead back the dough, taking care so no air escapes and roll the dough thinly.
For the Tomato paste
Fresh tomatoes 200gms
Artichoke puree 40gms
Basil 3 sprigs
Olive oil for shallow frying
Garlic 2 cloves.
Sea salt. To taste.
Take fresh tomatoes, caramelised artichoke puree, basil, sea salt, garlic and start cooking it very slowly until the bitterness is gone and it’s slightly on the sweet side.
For the topping
Buratta cheese 40gms
Feta cheese 40gms.
Once the dough is rolled, spread some tomato sauce on it, as even as possible. Tear some buratta and put it on the dough and cook it at 225°C for 6 minutes. Turning the dough every now and then. Once it nice and crispy throughout add thinly sliced artichokes and sprinkle on the pizza, finish with little bit basil, olive oil, sea salt and olive oil. Slice in 12 slices and you have a fresh yet deep artichoke flavoured thin crispy pizza.
Star anise 1gms
Green pepper corn 8p
Fennel seeds 4gms
Bay leaf 1
White wine vinegar 40ml
Slowly boil water, add the aromats, lemon zest, salt, sugar and once off the heat and not boiling, add the white wine vinegar.
It should taste, sweet, little spicy, tangy and little salty. Pour over the thinly sliced artichoke (off the heat) and cover with lid. Let artichoke sit in the pickle for 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, carefully remove the artichoke, add a little pickle and chill in the fridge.
Caramelised Artichoke Puree
Lemon juice 1
Cook the chopped artichokes in a little butter, in a thick-bottomed pan. Slowly caramelise in butter, like you would make a beurre noisette.
Press it down on a strainer, try and take out as much butter as possible. Reserve the fat for later use. Puree the caramelised artichoke in a high speed blender. Add a spoon of butter, hung yoghurt, salt, pepper and lemon zest and a little juice. Add whey to achieve the desired puree consistency.
Lamb rump 180gms
Beetroot 1 nos
Marinade a lean piece of lamb with grated beetroot, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic gloves and rosemary. This will help cure the meat slightly and keep it nice and moist.
Sear in the pan, until caramelised on all sides. Roast in the oven at 175°C for 3 minutes and then turning over and roasting for 2 minutes. Keep it on a wire rack and let it rest for about 12-14 minutes.
Slice against the grain and serve with some roast potatoes, artichoke puree, artichoke and garlic salsa.
Peel and par boil whole potatoes, sprinkle some oil, add a little salt pepper and some aromatics. Roast at 225°C until nice and golden.
Add artichoke puree and salsa.
Garlic 3 cloves
Add garlic at room temperature in water and very slowly start boiling it. Repeat this process 6 times, discarding the boiled water and use fresh water every time. Once the garlic is nice and soft, using back of spoon make a coarse paste, add some sea salt and pepper. Finally chop the artichoke, add little garlic, chopped chives, little olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and seasoning if required.
This could be served as a salsa with some nice sourdough bread or on top of cooked fish for texture and flavour.
Seared Scallops with Artichoke pickle
Lemon 1 nos
Take fresh scallops, wash them in running water and pat dry. Season lightly and sear one side in medium to high heat pan. Once they get a nice colour, place them in the oven at about 175°C for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove the pan, turn the scallops with a spoon and add a knob of unsalted butter, once the butter starts to melts, spoon it over the scallops and when it starts to foam, take it off the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Finish with artichoke pickle and salsa.
RECIPES COURTESY: CHEF RISHIM SACHDEVA, OLIVE BAR AND KITCHEN, MUMBAI