Mumbai Food: Four restaurants where chefs are adding edible gold to cuisine
Move over silver-dusted mithai, this festive season chefs are adding edible gold to make your food positively precious
The festive season is upon us and, expectedly, most gold brands will lure patrons with attractive collections and discounts. Turns out, restaurants have joined the fray with edible-gold culinary extravaganza. It's not a new phenomenon though. India's penchant for gold in all forms can be traced back to over a thousand years where the khansamas (or the royal cooks) would present the kings with gold-plated food to honour them or celebrate festivals. It was said to improve vitality and also, display one's prosperity. Historically, evidence shows that it was the Egyptian pharaohs who consumed it as an elixir as gold was believed to have properties that make you look younger. Today, restaurants are using gold leaves (vark) to add a touch of decadence and luxury to their meals. Even though silver vark is commonly found on Indian mitahis, gold is favoured for its grandiosity. Here are four options in the city that could serve as a good bang for your buck.
Andheri's Asian bar Yazu has two offerings, the 24K gold leaf sushi Yazu twist with Mexican-Asian ingredients, and the 24K gold dust dimsums with charcoal coating. "Working with edible gold is as good as working with any other expensive ingredient: You have to use it judiciously. The gold leaf sheets balance the texture of the dish and also lend an essence of luxury required to elevate it," says Ranbir Nagpal, partner at Yazu. Being a noble metal, the gold dust on the charcoal dim sum or the leaf on Mexican-Asian sushi does not alter the flavours of the original dish. It does not oxidise or corrode due to moisture, making it safe to be consumed.
The mighty Midas
Before Huber & Holly introduced the unicorn ice cream in the city, they added sparkle to their menu for the festive season with the decadent Mighty Midas. Made with 17 elements, the dish is made using fresh gooey brownie, caramelised nuts, nutty Praline, Rocher rocks, hot fudge, Belgian dark chocolate ice cream and hazeltella filled chocolate spheres. It is topped with gold-dusted golden chocolate ice cream, a raspberry rose sorbet macaron, pipette of ginger, passion fruit, caramel chocolate bar, ruby nutties and finally garnished with 24-carat gold leaf flakes. It comes together by being served in a chocolate layered cone covered with gold sprinkles. Gayatri Chona, founder and product development head, says, "We wanted to create an ice cream that looked dressy. Which is when we decided to create something glamorous for the festive season. And what better way to do that than using gold!" Chona's biggest challenge was to handle the gold leaf as that made for half the cost of the ice cream and even a slight amount of error would lead to the gold leaf disintegrating into dust.
For the royals
Lucknowi cuisine was made by nawabs for their pleasure, which is why they would incorporate gold and silver into the dish to enhance its value. Chef Vikram Arora, Tamak, wanted to add an exquisite dish on the menu which is when he thought of rustling up the potli kebab. "Since potli resembles the shape of a purse, it was meant to keep what you consider precious, safe. In culinary terms, this would elevate the dish from fine to grand," explains Arora. What a gold leaf lacks in flavour, it makes up in medicinal properties—it is an aphrodisiac. He adds that 99.99 per cent purity gold is used in the making of the gold leaf. "It is made by certified skilled workers only. I source it from a vendor at Masjid Bunder. You can buy it online."
Middle Eastern experience
Middle Eastern fine-dine, Bayroute has launched gold souk, a dessert inspired by Dubai's gold markets. Chef Sandeep Rane, corporate chef, bakery and confectionery, says, "We have meticulously created this dessert which replicates Dubai's richness, grandeur, and magic of the gold markets. It is filled with rose vermicelli, kulfi, assorted ice-cream, and sorbet, saffron pearls, topped with lotus ruby chocolate flower plated with edible 24 karat gold leaves, fruits, and nuts." While the dessert looks spectacular, Rane tells us that working with gold leaf needs a stable hand to place it on the dish. He adds, "Since 24-karat gold is very soft and fragile, most edible gold—whether leaf, flakes, or dust—has no taste, texture, or calories. Edible gold might be an expensive treat, but it is safe to consume. "It gives a dish a royal and spectacular look."
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