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The healthy and delicious broccoli.

Malai Broccoli. Photo by the author

Broccoli, the great healthy green food, as we all know is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, which also includes, kale, bok choy, collard green, turnips and brussels sprouts.

It comes with tons of health benefits, which we should all be aware about and include this super vegetable in our dietary intake. Broccoli's large flowering head is eaten as a vegetable. The word "broccoli" comes from the Italian word "broccoli," meaning the "flowering crest of cabbage." Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of brassica oleracea. Broccoli can be eaten raw, steamed or boiled. The most common cooking method for broccoli is to boil it in water and then consume it.

Broccoli has large flowering heads, usually green in colour, arranged in a tree like structure branching out from a thick edible stalk. The broccoli flower is surrounded by leaves and has a close physical resemblance to cauliflower apart from its colour.

The origin of broccoli is thought to be in the Mediterranean Sea, as a result of careful breeding of cultivated brassica crops. Broccoli is considered an important part of Italian diet and from there it travelled to England. Broccoli became very popular in the USA in the 1920s and was brought in by Italian travellers and businessmen. Now California -- the broccoli state -- produces about 90% of the total production in the US.

There are very few food items and dishes that provide essential nutrients and still look good -- broccoli is one such item. Broccoli not only helps lower cholesterol but taste great as well.

Broccoli is a natural detoxifier and helps neutralise toxins in the body. It has an adequate amount of Vitamin D, and can help offset the vitamin's deficiency. Broccoli also contains flavonoids, which reduce the impact of allergens on our bodies. This helps to explain its unique anti-inflammatory benefits.

How to boil broccoli

Always soak the broccoli florets in salted cold water to remove insects and then blanch it in salted boiling water till soft. Ensure that you do not over boil it and the florets should retain their shape. Studies have shown that generally kids like broccoli and my elder son himself likes to eat broccoli. Avoid overcooking the broccoli as it reduces its nutrient value. Overcooked broccoli becomes soft and mushy, an indication that it has lost both nutrients and flavour.

How to choose a good broccoli flower

Always choose fresh broccoli over frozen variety. Look for any blemishes or spoilage marks; bright green colour indicates freshness; the florets should be closely packed to each other and there should not be any gaps between the florets; and the stem should look fresh and should be firm to touch.

My personal favourite dish when I want to eat something healthy is soya garlic tossed broccoli flowers -- substantial and healthy.

Malai Broccoli

Serves 2

Ingredients

Broccoli florets 500 gm

Cheddar cheese white 80 gm

Mozzarella cheese 50 gm

Cooking cream 100 ml

Green Cardamom pods 8-10

Black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Garlic paste 1 tbsp

Ginger paste 1 tbsp

Green chilli 1 no

Garnish

Coriander sprig few no's

Method

Cut the broccoli florets into small pieces and keep them soaked in salted water to remove any insects.

In a separate pot bring salted water to boil and add to it the broccoli florets.

Blanch the broccoli florets into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then refresh them in ice cold water to stop carry over cooking.

Once cooled, drain the water and keep the florets aside.

In a separate bowl combine cheese, ginger and garlic pastes, the green chilli, cardamom pods, black pepper powder, salt and work them into a fine paste.

Marinate the broccoli florets into the prepared marinade and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 Celsius and place the florets on a butter paper-lined baking tray; Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown from outside.

Serve hot garnished with coriander sprig.

Note: You can also skewer the broccoli florets and place them in oven or clay oven called tandoor to make the dish more authentic and retain their shape.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Sep 8, 2016
Words:706
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