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Awesome Artichokes

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

They may not be a common ingredient in Indian cuisine, but artichokes are among the most delicious and nutritious vegetables! So, how do you prepare them? Yamini Walia tells you how to cook this vegetable and why you must eat it

The artichoke is an ancient vegetable, and was used by the Greeks and Romans for its medicinal qualities and health benefits. The season vegetable has its origins in Europe and are seasonal vegetables. Usually considered a vegetable, the artichoke is actually an unusual variety of thistle, which is a flowering plant. Apart from its health benefits, most people are unaware of how to eat or cook artichokes, because of their unique shape (refer to the picture below). Read on to find out more.

The technique
Artichokes are available in various sizes and you can consume them raw or cook them. We tell you what works best.

Learn how to cut
To prepare larger artichokes, rinse the globes in cold water. Trim away the stem, leaving about an inch from the base. Remove the lower layers of petals as they do not contain any flesh. With a pair of scissors, trim away the thorny petals ends. Trim the top end up to an inch using a paring knife. Spread out the petals using your fingers and then scrape off the central choke. Rub a lemon slice over the cut portion to prevent it from turning brown. To ensure that the globe is soft, boil it in water (upside down) and add some salt and lemon juice to it.

The eating dilemma
To eat it raw, you need to take off individual leaves, one at a time. After this, just dip them into your favourite sauce or dressing and enjoy the soft fleshy vegetable. The centre of the leaf contains a lot of edible flesh. But, be prepared to keep a finger bowl handy to wash your messy hands after you’re done eating.

How to serve
Artichokes can be served in several ways. Here are a few.

  • You can either mix an artichoke in vegetables, meat, beans or stuff it with seafood.
  • Its globes are usually deep-fried, sautéed in oil or barbequed.
  • The stem, which you usually dispose of, can also be eaten as it tastes quite similar to the heart of the artichoke.

Health Benefits
As mentioned above, artichokes have been used for years for their medicinal and health benefits. Here we shed light on a few of those benefits.

  • Artichokes are low in calories and fat — a 100g serving contains only about 47 calories. But, they also are a rich source of dietary fibre and antioxidants.
  • They help ease digestion and their leaf extract reduces symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, flatulence and stomach pain in people with indigestion.
  • Consuming artichoke extract helps reduce cholesterol levels. However, drinking its juice will not lower cholesterol and in fact, it will increase the level of blood fats called triglycerides.
  • Artichokes are a good source of antioxidant compounds such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which protect the body from harmful free-radical agents.
  • Bile produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder helps in digesting fats and removing dangerous toxins. Cynarin in artichokes boosts bile production.
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