For most of us, fruits are eaten whole, churned into shakes or perched on to desserts. But if you look at the summer menus floating around at restaurants in the city, you will see how this bomb of goodness is being used to create much more. Fruits are being thrown into salads, blended with soups, slathered on bread, rolled into sushi and so much more.
According to Chef Paul Kinny from InterContinental Marine Drive, “As fruits are sweet in nature, they are generally associated with desserts and other sweets. But this is changing as chefs add newer dimensions to their salads and main course dishes. Just like desserts are being seasoned with salt, herbs and spices.” At Chef Kinny’s Nariman Point-based restaurant, one can enjoy savouries made using fruits such as mango in sushi, guava and oranges in salads and apple coleslaw served with sandwiches.
For most chefs, the fruit-in-food trend works best during the months of summer. This is because fruits add a touch of lightness to otherwise heavy meals. Take, for instance, the apple and gorgonzola sandwich available at The Pantry that packs-in fine slices of the red fruit, crushed black pepper, apple compote and Pondicherry gorgonzola cheese.
Abhishek Honawar, director of the Kalaghoda-based café, says, “During summer, our body craves for light lunches, so a sandwich stuffed with heavily-cooked proteins wouldn’t work as aptly as a sandwich stuffed with fine slices of fruit and cheese.”
Chef Azad Arif from Bandra-based Otto Infinito concurs. He says, “One of the most convenient ways to introduce fruits to your food is to throw them with something lightly-cooked like an appetiser or a salad as against heavily-stewed and hot foods.” This is mainly because fruits when cooked heavily lose their taste, texture and essence. But leave them raw and they will shine through most dishes dish.
Chef Arif’s menu consists of fruit-based salads such as a puy lentils punctuated with pomegranate gems, watermelon and haloumi salad and a mango steak served with grilled shrimp and raw mango cous cous. Similar fruit-tossed salads can also be found at Nariman Point-based eatery Amadeus in the form of mango carpaccio, while Bandra’s The Daily serves a combination of chilled pears and artichokes.
While many international cuisines rely heavily on classic meat-fruit pairings such as cranberries and apricot, orange and duck - in Mumbai, fruits are treading slowly on non-vegetarian menus. According to Chef Rahul Kaushik from Shangri-La Hotel, fruit and meat combination is a tough nut to crack. This is because certain meats such as prawns and chicken do not have a striking flavour of their own and therefore need to be paired well to get the balance right. “At the same time, one also needs to ensure that the fruit doesn’t take over the essence of the meat nor should the meat make the fruit’s presence negligible,” says Kaushik.
Keeping all this is mind, the hotel’s multi-cuisine restaurant, Seven serves the classic tandoori prawns on a bed of fruit salsa. “Made using finely-chopped pieces of red and green apple, kiwis, orange segments, all muddled in orange juice and spices - the fruits provides the right kind of tartness needed to compliment the fish,” says Kaushik.
Chilled melon and buttermilk soup
>> 1 melon, diced
>> 150 gm yogurt
>> 100 gm sour cream
>> 30 ml honey
>> Rock salt to taste,
>> 3 to 5 sprigs of mint leaves
>> In a mixer, churn ice cubes and all the other ingredients into a fine puree. Pour into serving bowls and serve chilled.
Apple and cilantro pesto
>> 2 cups coriander
>> ½ cup mint leaves
>> 2 chillies
>> ¼ cup basil
>> 8 garlic cloves
>> 1 granny smith apple, cubed
>> 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
>> Salt and pepper to taste
>> In a mixer, blitz all the ingredients into a coarse paste. Season it with salt and pepper and drizzle extra olive oil on top
>> Stock it in an air-tight container