Incredible cups

Sep 23, 2012, 09:03 IST | Sonal Ved

After a scrumptious meal, instead of leaving the dishes behind, simply eat up the evidence. Sonal Ved digs out four places that are serving foods that come brimming in edible containers

They say you cannot eat your cake and eat it too. But if you ask some chefs, they will say not only can you eat the cake, you can even polish off the container. With edible cups becoming a rage among cooks, restaurant menus boast of dishes served in edible baskets, buckets, nests and cups.

Though edible packaging is common with foods such as wraps, rolls and ice creams, this trend was recently rehashed by Venezuelan designer Enrique Luis Sardi with his introduction of the ‘cookie cup’ for Italian coffee brand, Lavazza. The cup used to serve coffee was made out of cookie dough and lined with icing sugar paste that protected the glass from turning into a soggy mess.

Similar glasses are now doled out by Smoke House Deli to serve an Oreo Cookie Milkshake as a part of a special tasting menu. “Bringing a breath of fresh air to takeaway culture that has so far relied on plastic and silver foil containers, edible containers add an interesting touch and taste to the food,” says Nitin Kumar, the restaurant manager from the delicatessen’s Delhi outlet, where the cups continue to sell. For those who cannot travel to the capital to get a dose of these, here are some local options:

Pizza in a pot at Pizza By The Bay, Marine Drive
This pizza would make Martha Stewart happy, for it is cooked on the lines of a traditional apple pie. The dish uses ceramic bowls, which are filled with an array of typical pizza ingredients. They are covered with thick sheets of pizza dough and baked on the lines of the parent dish itself.

Pizza in a Pot at Pizza By The Bay at Nariman Point. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The baked dish comes to the table looking like a potpie, which is then reversed on your plate to reveal a pizza served in a doughy pot. While the dish tastes simple with vegetables such as onions, mushroom, bell pepper and tomato, we were surprised to find that each vegetable was firm after the tedious process of baking. The pizza has generous hints of basil pesto, which works well to give it an authentic Italian frame.

It is also available with other toppings, such as coriander butter-flavoured cottage cheese, chicken meatballs and spicy tandoori chicken. However, since the potpie is not pre-cut like the rest of the pizzas served at this restaurant, it is quite cumbersome to eat.
For: Rs 400

Stir fried lobster in a noodle basket at Hakkasan, Bandra
Hakkasan’s noodle basket resembles a bird’s nest. Heaps of rice noodles are first boiled and arranged in a bowl. They are deep fried until crispy and served with a stuffing of cubed lobster and an assortment of vegetables.

Lobster Fry in Noodle Basket. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

The filling is tossed in a homemade black bean sauce, which gives the dish a faint salty and fermented edge. While the ingredients used to prepare the filling retain their crunch due to the quick, wok flash cooking, the outer basket is tough and hard to break.

We especially like the touch of fried enoki mushrooms used to garnish the stuffing of asparagus, shemiji mushroom and waterchestnut — all imported from Thailand. Since the dish is more of a side dish than a main, team it with steamed jasmine rice or hand-pulled hakka noodles for best results.
For: Rs 1,850

Salad in a tortilla bucket at Manchester United Cafe Bar, Mulund
Flavoured with three kinds of chillies — jalapeno, smoked and fresh red, the salad dressing is too spicy but has a lemony zing. It has an olive oil base that evenly coats a mixture of vegetables such as boiled potatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, sweet corn, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and kidney beans.

A chef prepares Salad Basket at Manchester United Cafe Bar, Mulund. Pics/Sameer Markande 

The veggies are spiked and filled into a bowl made out of herbed tortillas. While frying seems like an easy way to get these curvy, hollow bowls, the restaurant keeps the salad mood intact by baking them instead.

To create a flavour fluctuation between all the ingredients, the dish comes topped with a quenelle of creamy avocado dip and sour cream. Both these dips are light and mild and help take the sharpness of cilantro and chillies — two ingredients that are amply used in the salad — away.
For: Rs 325

Ice cream in a waffle flower cup at Haagen Dazs
This is one of those ice cream joints where you will be treated to a waffle even if you ask for your ice cream in a cup. The ‘flower blossom’ dessert is called so because it is colourful like a flower and is served in a waffle-cup with large petals.

Ice cream in a waffle flower cup at Haagen Dasz. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

The edible bowl is filled with a choice of six small scoops of ice creams; served with a drizzle of sharp raspberry and velvety chocolate sauces. While coffee, summer berries, chocolate and dulce de leche give out a creamy taste, the raspberry and mango sorbets act as pleasant palate cleansers to help you distinguish in-between flavours. We advise you to gobble up this treat quickly because in no time, the dessert turns into a cold lake of sweet milk.
Price: Rs 695

Rocket and palm heart salad with Caramalised Walnuts and Balsamic Dressing

40 g green apple, sliced
300 g parmesan cheese, grated
20 g iceberg lettuce
40 g rocket lettuce, grated
60 g palm hearts, sliced
2 g parsley, chopped
1g chilli flakes
2 g salt
1 g black pepper
40 g Thai water chestnut
20 ml balsamic vinegar
50 g toasted walnuts, tossed in caramalised sugar

Rocket and Palm Heart Salad with Caramalised Walnuts and Balsamic dressing. Pics/Sunil Tiwari

>> On a non-stick pan, heat parmesan cheese and add parsley and chilli flakes to it
>> When the cheese begins to bubble, transfer it into a bowl
>> With the back of a spoon flatten the cheese and give it the shape of a bowl
>> Since the cheese will have a mouldable consistency, it will spread well and harden within 3-4 minutes
>> Remove the ‘cheese bowl’ from the container and keep it aside
>> To make the filling, in a bowl mix lettuce, palm heart, apple slices, water chestnut, salt, pepper, parsley, balsamic dressing and toss well
>> Fill the parmesan cheese cups with this salad and serve immediately

Mexican smoked chicken in Taco Shells with Beans and Tomato Salsa

20 g Borlotti beans
20 g fava beans
30 g smoked chicken pieces
2 g Mexican spice mix
5 g jalapeno chilli, chopped
5 g kalamata olives
10 g iceberg lettuce
50 g cherry tomatoes
10 g onion, chopped
2 g green chillies, chopped
1 g salt
1 g pepper
2 ml lemon juice
20 ml tomato juice
20 g sour cream
50 g maize flour
2 g soda
Oil for frying

Mexican Smoked Chicken in Taco Shells with Beans and tomato Salsa

>> In a bowl, mix maize flour, soda and water. Knead it into tight dough and divide it into small roundels
>> Roll it into thin chapattis and toast them on both the sides, like you would make rotis
>> Place these tortillas in taco moulds and deep fry in hot oil until crispy
>> To make the salsa, cut cherry tomatoes into half and mix with onions, chillies, coriander, tomato juice, salt, pepper and lemon juice
>> Fill the taco shells with lettuce, chicken dices, beans, olives and jalapenos. Sprinkle some Mexican seasoning on top and serve it with cherry tomato salsa and sour cream

Recipes courtesy: Chef Robin Batra from Trident, Bandra Kurla 

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