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Excuse me waiter, there’s a tree in my soup!

india Updated: Nov 11, 2011 00:47 IST
bhut jolokia

Chef-owner Rene Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen uses wild, local plants for the centrepiece of his food offering; New Delhi Restaurant in San Francisco serves a mutton preparation that uses Bhut Jolokia found in Assam.

If you sit down to a fine dining meal and find twigs, pine needles and other assorted forest matter on your plate, don’t be alarmed. According to the predictions of a food trendspotter, chefs will be increasingly turning to the forest floor for inspiration. Perhaps the best example of the forest forager is chef-owner Rene Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, who’s widely credited with pioneering a trend that uses wild, local plants for the centrepiece of the food offering.

In the latest trendspotting report by San Francisco-based Andrew Freeman & Co., analysts predict that next year, chefs will increasingly begin to use the natural aromatics of pine needles, Douglas fir and eucalyptus to flavour sauces, rubs, meats and infuse jus and broths.

At London hotspot The Ledbury, for instance, analysts point out that Aussie chef Brett Graham already uses the aromatics of Douglas fir to flavour his loin of roe deer with beetroots, smoked bone marrow, potato and pinot lees. Similarly, Chicago restaurant Graham Elliot serves spring lamb with eucalyptus foam. Meanwhile, it seems that American palates will continue to be tested to the limits next year, with brazen chefs challenging their diners’ spice meter and adding some of the world’s hottest chili peppers to their dishes. This is especially true of Indian eateries, where picking the hottest dish can be seen as a badge of honour. New Delhi Restaurant in San Francisco, for instance, serves an Indian Ghost Pepper Sauce — a chili that once held the title of the hottest chili pepper in the world. Also known as the Bhut Jolokia in India, the chili is so hot that the Indian army made plans to deploy the pepper as a weapon in tear gas or hand grenades.