June is World Avocado Month as proclaimed by the World Avocado Organization (WAO), of which South Africa is a member, and that means it’s time for some fanfare and fun, time to take your avocado obsession on a culinary adventure.
South Africans love avocados. It’s a delicious fruit that Africans have embraced and cultivated for ages – while we know SA’s first avocado orchards were planted in 1933, many believe avocados came to the continent with Dutch settlers from their West India colonies as early as the 1600s.
However, we can all agree it deserves some extra plate time this time of the year.
The beauty in the avocado – aside from its taste – lies in the versatility of the fruit for snacks and meals.
It can be mashed, diced, sliced, or puréed – and used with an array of compatible ingredients.
For those looking to explore their culinary skills using avocados, there is no time like the present.
With load shedding a part of our daily lives, the South African Avocado Growers’ Association team suggests that you prepare your curry ahead of time and make up the rotis fresh on the braai or a gas hob or skottel braai when you heat the curry.
And prepare your salad beforehand, serving it at room temperature with your fresh avo dressing, or gently heat on the braai or gas for a warmer alternative before dressing it.
Roast butternut, grains, and avo winter salad
2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
2 tbsp honey
½ cup corn couscous
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup cranberries
400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained
Handful of coriander, finely chopped plus extra
Maldon salt, for sprinkling (optional)
For the tangy avo dressing
1 avocado, mashed
Juice of 4 small lemons
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the butternut (skin on) in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut each half into 4 wedges and place on a roasting tray.
Sprinkle it with the oil and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning halfway, until caramelised.
Meanwhile, cook the couscous according to the packet instructions. Combine the cooked couscous, seeds, cranberries, lentils, and coriander. Divide between 4 plates with the butternut and extra coriander.
For the dressing, blitz together the ingredients until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Make avo roses by cutting the avocados (firm-ripe avocados work best) in half and removing the skins and pips. Working with 1 avocado half at a time, place the cut side down on a cutting board. Slice through the width into very thin slices.
Fan out the avocado slices into a straight line. Beginning at one end, gently roll up the slices into a spiral rose shape. Repeat with the rest. Season with Maldon or table salt. Add a rose to each salad. Serve with the dressing.
Load shedding tip: Make this salad up to a day ahead. Simply bring it to room temperature if it was refrigerated and add the avo roses when ready to serve.
Chicken curry rotis
Serves: 4 - 6
For the curry
3 tbsp mild curry powder
⅓ cup cornflour
6 chicken breasts, cubed
Avocado or olive oil, for frying
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
410g tin of Indian-style chopped tomatoes
1½ cups plain yoghurt plus extra
Handful of coriander, chopped plus extra
For the avo rotis
¾ cup mashed avocado
1 cup cake flour plus extra for dusting
Squeeze lemon juice
1 tsp salt
80g melted butter
1 avocado, sliced
For the curry, mix half the curry powder and the cornflour together. Season with salt and pepper. Mix through the chicken.
Heat a splash of oil in a 25cm flat-bottomed cast iron potjie over medium-hot coals and fry the chicken until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Keep aside.
Heat another splash of oil and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic and remaining curry powder and fry for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and chicken, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. Add a splash of water, as necessary, to prevent the curry from drying out.
Mix through the yoghurt and coriander and heat through, without boiling.
For the rotis, combine all the ingredients until a soft dough forms. Divide into 4-6 balls. Roll each out, as thin as possible, into a circle on a flour-dusted surface.
Place on a hot grid and cook over medium-hot coals for 2-3 minutes on each side until charred and cooked. Brush with butter.
Serve the curry rolled up in the rotis with sliced avo, extra dollops of yoghurt, and extra coriander.
Tip: This recipe can also be made on gas. Use a griddle pan for the rotis.
You can read the latest Food digimag here.