If you thought it takes a magician to add a shade of pink to your hummus, or a lilac to your dessert, and his evil glare to turn your pasta black, you are mistaken. All it takes is the mixing of right ingredients to create that magic.
“Edible colours are easy to make and can be used for a variety of dishes in smart ways such as in cocktails, desserts, fondants, icing, curries, sauces, pastes, chutneys and jams,” says food blogger Nikhil Merchant. “I make a beautiful lilac using jamuns. All you have to do is deseed the jamuns and run them through a blender.
This pulp can be stored up to six months in the refrigerator. The less you cook the colour the better it retains its original hue. So always add it towards the end of the cooking process or in anything cold. For example, spinach extract (green) will turn brownish if cooked, purplish blue cabbage extract will turn pale brown if used in hot water for jelly. Add it when the dish has cooled down, and you’ll get a vibrant blue,” explains Merchant, who writes about all things food on www.nonchalantgourmand.com.
Meanwhile, Executive chef Chef Gautam Mehrishi of Sun and Sand, Juhu, says making edible colour is not only easy, it also helps present a dish beautifully. “Some of the common dyes are beetroot, spinach and turmeric. It is all about keeping an open mind. The squid ink, which is black in colour, can be used to create contemporary dishes such as copellini and pastas. Look for the squid sack, press it and remove the black ink. It is best to use it fresh as the colour tends to fade.”
Go Green with curry leaves oil
Use the green curry oil to colour fish tikkis and tandoors
>> 15g fried curry leaves
>> 75ml mustard oil
>> Roast the curry leaves until very crisp. Crush the curry leaves and form a powder
>> Mix this powder to warm mustard oil. It will take a green colour within 20 minutes
Turn pink with sumac powder
Hummus with sumac oil. Pics/Prashant Waydande
>> ½ cup sumac powder (which is derived from the shrub’s berries after drying them.
It is readily available in the market)
>> 1 cup olive oil
>> 1 small bowl boiled chickpeas
>> ¼ cup tahini
>> 2 cloves garlic
>> ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
>> 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
>> Salt to taste
>> Heat the olive oil and pour it over sumac powder and keep overnight so the oil retains the reddish sumac colour
>> Drain and rinse the boiled chickpeas, reserving ½ cup chickpea liquid
>> Place the tahini in a food processor, or blender, and pulse with the garlic and lemon juice until smooth
>> Add the ½ cup reserved chickpea liquid and the chickpeas
>> Process until well blended. Add the sumac sediments separating the oil. Set aside
>> To serve, spread the hummus on a shallow platter and make a small well in the centre, with a spoon. Pour two tsp of sumac oil into the well. Serve with toasted pita
* All the dishes have been prepared by Chef Gautam Mehrishi
The different hues of olives
According to Chef Mehrishi, green olive dust can be used to get a rust-brown colour, while black olives give a black powder. Deseed the olives, drain them and pat them dry. roast them in the oven for five hours and chop them. Roast the chopped olives for two hours. Powder it in the mixer and seive it. Store the powder in the fridge.