Nothing fishy here
In a bid to plate up picture-perfect dishes, city chefs are making use of molecular gastronomy to serve food with alternate forms of caviar. Here's where you can try it
If you're a food enthusiast - and by that we do not mean a capricious blogger with an Instagram page called Food4Lyf - you must have heard the names of chefs Joan Roca, Massimo Bottura and Rene Redzepi. What is little known though, is that they all worked with Ferran Adria at some point in their careers. Hailed as the father of molecular gastronomy, and the man behind the now-shut El Bulli (which held three Michelin stars and the accolade of being the best restaurant in the world a record five times), Adrià contributed to gastronomy greatly. Be it foams, also known as espuma, or emulsions that continue to be used by chefs across the world, Adrià's culinary philosophy paved the way for experimental cooking that makes use of chemistry.
Spherification is a process that makes use of sodium alginate or calcium chloride/glucate to transform liquids into jelly-like balls
And spherification, a process that makes use of sodium alginate or calcium chloride/glucate to transform liquids into jelly-like balls, was Adrià's brainchild, too. It is the scientific process behind alternate caviar - a technique that has gained currency among Mumbai-based chefs as well. "El Bulli was the first experimental kitchen of its kind.
When I did a test study on the restaurant in college, my interest in modernist techniques grew," corporate chef at Masala Library Saurabh Udinia tells us, outlining the inspiration behind a dessert he creates that employs the process of spherification. Others, like chef Nagraj Bhat of a Lower Parel-based bar and diner, and Sameer Desai of an establishment in Cuffe Parade, also extol the acclaimed chef while speaking about dishes at their eateries that feature this zany condiment. Let's take a look at some of the best treats on offer in the city.
Un-spiraling the jalebi
"A mixture of calcium is poured into a bath of sodium, or alternatively, sodium is used with a calcium bath, to form a thin membrane which encases a liquid to give you a caviar-like substance," says chef Udinia elaborating on the process of spherification, which he employs in the jalebi caviar (Rs 595).
A decadent sweet treat available at this modern Indian restaurant, featuring jalebi moulded into a caviar-like form it oddly reminds us of a popular mishti in West Bengal called mihidana. It is served with a luscious pistachio rabri and a saffron glaze.
AT: Masala Library, 1st International Financial Centre, BKC.
TIME: 12 pm to 2.30 pm; 7pm to 11 pm
Don't go by the looks
While most chefs experimenting with alternate caviar rely on spherification, Shailendra Kekade, who uses roasted flax seeds for the grain caviar (Rs 280) at his health café, believes nutrition trumps looks. "Even though the process is a popular one, it only gives the look and texture of the caviar, not the qualities.
Flax seeds, on the other hand, are a vegetarian source for omega 3 fatty acids - like caviar - which is enhanced when roasted," he reasons. This healthy treat comprises buckwheat pancakes that are topped with sour cream and micro-greens.
AT: Sante Spa Cuisine, Block G, BKC.
TIME: 11 am to 12 am
Very berry caviar
"Traditionally, caviar is non-vegetarian and has a fishy smell, which may not appeal to vegetarians, and some non-vegetarians, too. So, chefs are making caviar in different flavours," says chef Desai, shedding light on another facet of the condiment's popularity. Desai whips up a caviar made with cranberry that adorns the chicken liver pate (Rs 370) available at his restaurant.
"Chicken liver pate is typically served with berry compotes or berry bread slice. But we decided to do a caviar instead," he explains.
AT: Hammer and Song, 10, World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade.
TIME: 12 pm to 1.30 am
Made of lavender dreams
Chef Bhat learnt the technique of spherification during his stint at the Waterside Inn in Maidenhead in London between 2009 and 2013. Now, he's using his knowledge to create lavendar caviar which features in the elderflower panacotta (Rs 375).
"It adds texture, flavour and a visual appeal to the dessert, lending a floral note," Bhat explains.
AT: London Taxi, Kamala Mills, Lower Parel.
TIME: 12 pm to 1.30 am
Where else to try it
- Gin in a bottle (in pic) AT Tanatan, Juhu. CALL 61876970
- Fish charred AT Arth, Khar West. CALL 9594060038
- Vanilla panacotta AT Me Time Art Cafe, Bandra West. CALL 26054884
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