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Oil can be much more than just a food ingredient. It can actually be beneficial to your health, writes Tan Bee Hong
RAMADAN is round the corner. When you break fast with family and friends, there is nothing more satisfying than a home-cooked meal.
Oil is a must for cooking. But you don’t have to dig deep into your pockets for fancy imported oil when we have something in the backyard that does an even better job. Palm oil is particularly suited for our local cooking styles.
Using palm oil for cooking is not new either. Man has been doing so for more than 5,000 years. Research has also shown that palm oil is a healthy oil as it contains a variety of fats, vitamins and nutrients, with no unhealthy trans-fatty acids that is mainly found in hydrogenated oils.
It is rich in phytonutrients such as natural carotenes, tocotrienols and tocopherols (Vitamin E) and co-enzyme Q10. Tocotrienols inhibit cholesterol production in the liver, thereby lowering total blood cholesterol. Alpha tocotrienol suppresses hepatic HMG-CoA reductase activity that results in the lowering of LDL cholesterol levels.
Studies on the health benefits of palm oil show it has anti-cancer properties and the fatty acids of palm oil can inhibit and/or delay experimental carcinogenesis.
For Ramadan, here are three recipes from Carotino, the oil that is packed with natural carotenes and tocotrienols:
Fast facts on palm oil
• Palm oil is an excellent dietary energy source.
• Like all other fruit and vegetable oils, palm oil is cholesterol-free. It’s also free of trans-fatty acids as it does not require hydrogenation to extend its shelf life.
• It contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid necessary for good health.
• It is rich in carotenoids. The red colour of palm oil comes from the carotenoids in the oil.
• It is also a good source of natural vitamin E antioxidants, tocopherols and tocotrienols. These natural antioxidants may act as scavengers of damaging oxygen free radicals.
• Palm oil is anti-thrombotic (reduces tendency for blood clots) and cardio-protective.
CHICKEN & MANGO SALAD
By nutritionist Celina Lim
4 chicken fillet, skinned
6 spring onions, sliced 3cm lengths
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 medium-sized green mango
1 medium-sized green apple
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 lime, juice
3 red chillies
50g fresh coriander
40g mint leaves
1 ½ tbsp roasted peanuts, chop roughly
1. Lightly season the chicken fillet and saute with 2 tbsp oil until cooked. Set aside to cool.
2. Saute the spring onions, using a little oil in the same pan. Place in a broad, flat bowl.
3. Fry sliced garlic until golden brown. Place in bowl with fried spring onions.
4. Peel mango and cut flesh into lengths of 0.5cm thickness. Put in bowl. Add fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.
5. Halve chillies and remove seeds. Slice finely. Add to bowl.
6. Slice chicken into strips and add to bowl with remaining herbs, watercress and 3 tbsp Carotino oil.
7, Mix well and just before serving, sprinkle chopped roasted peanuts on top.
By chef Florence Tan
1 kg basmati rice (washed and drained)
100ml evaporated milk
6 tbsp Carotino oil
1 tbsp ghee
200g fresh tomato (cut into cubes)
7 tbsp tomato puree
2 ½ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp sugar
Slice thinly the following:
2 big onions
2 ½ cm ginger
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 pandan leaves (knotted)
2 ½ cm cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Toasted cashew nuts
1. Heat 2 types of oil (palm oil and ghee) in wok. Add in ingredients B and fry for 1 minute. Add in sliced ingredients A and fry till aromatic.
2. Add in tomato puree, tomato, water, milk and season to taste. Bring to boil. Add in rice. Transfer everything into rice cooker.
3. Once the rice is cooked, dish out and garnish.
By chef Florence Tan
1.5kg chicken, cut into pieces
180 ml Carotino oil
500 ml thick coconut milk
5 tbsp grated fried coconut
35 dried chillies (soaked)
2 red chillies
30g galanggal (lengkuas)
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp salt
2 ½ tbsp sugar
5 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut)
2 turmeric leaves
Mix together the following to make a paste:
2 ½ tbsp coriander powder
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
¾ tsp anise powder
4 tbsp water
1. Heat oil. Fry pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add spice paste and fry.
2. When it is fragrant, add chicken and fry for 5 minutes.
3. Add in coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add in the two types of leaves and season to taste. Put in turmeric leaves and kaffir lime leaves.
4. Simmer over low fire until the sauce becomes thick. Add kerisik (fried coconut). Serve with tomato rice.