As good eating increasingly becomes an appendage to good living, chefs the world over, are studying the simplest of kitchen ingredients to scientifically take food to the next level. A modernist approach to cooking based on experimental fusion, molecular gastronomy and precision techniques seems to be the new epicurean buzzword. As a testament to the trend, a host of new city eateries are giving a modern spin to complex and classic recipes.
Chef Bakshish Dean, executive director, Prime Gourmet says, "Scientific advancements and progressive fusion in cooking are a great way to enhance the texture and visual appeal of the food. While, chefs everywhere have accepted laboratory techniques much earlier, in India the consumer is getting interested only now.
"An increasing number of desi chefs are using modern methods to tap into the culinary heritage to turn the mundane into something special. So as restaurants mix ingredients with a researched acumen and plate dishes as if they are specimens to be studied, eating out has become a refreshing experience.
Zorawar Kalra who has launched Café Farzi, that employs molecular gastronomy in recipes says, "While we love butter chicken and dal, dining out has to be a novel experience. The idea being to deconstruct our staple favourites and present them in a progressive and fun way."
Zorawar Kalra's Café Farzi has a modern take on Indian nostalgia food (Photo: Subrata Biswas/ HT)
He adds, "In our raj kachori instead of saunth chutney we use soy lecithin foam, that gives you the exact same flavour but just one percent of calories."
Nishant Choubey, executive sous chef, Dusit Bird hotels says, "Physics is being employed in cooking now to bring about a fusion. I use a lot of sous vide technology (slow cooking food in temperature-controlled airtight packs) in my Indian cooking. The method of preparation can totally elevate a regular recipe to an artisan dish."
Chef Nishant Choubey has come up with experimental fusion food at Kiyan (Photo: Raj K Raj/ HT)
Ravi Saxena, corporate chef, Claridges hotel says that any new trend has certain longevity to it. For a fad to become a phenomenon it should be based on a sound knowledge of food science and ingredients."
Also, as food talk remains one of the most popular topics on social media, the Twitter generation wants to try highbrow food. For them, discussing, say, preparing coq au vin in Indian spices is more interesting than passing off parathas for lunch.
Food experts maintain, however, that it's not just food snobbery but a genuine interest to explore world kitchen traditions. And today you can experiment right here in your city.
Rustic flavours in an American concept. Chef Bakshish Dean travelled the Delhi-Amritsar highway to pick makhni flavours spiked with chilly, coriander and tandoori tang put together in a bun.
Where: Johnny Rockets, Select City Walk, Saket and Ambience Mall, Gurgaon
Price: Rs 400 plus taxes
Other fusion foods to try: Divine Delhi burger.
Rustic flavours of chilly, coriander and tandoori in a burger
Parle G Cheesecake
Parle G biscuit dunked in milk had for breakfast is reincarnated in this dessert where cheesecake and mascarapone is sandwiched between the biscuits and is served over rabri garnished with gems
Where: Café Farzi, 8, Cyber Hub, Gurgaon
Price: Rs 295 plus taxes
Other fusion foods to try: Rooh Afza crème brûlée, duck samosa, Dal chawal arancini, Phirni oxide.
A posh new spin to the traditional khichdi, where the bland flavours of the rice dish are made pronounced by using chettinad masala. The dish is topped with de-shelled baked lobster to make it a wholesome meal.
Where: Kiyan, Dusit Devarana, Samalkha, NH 8
Price: Rs 1600 plus taxes
Other fusion foods to try: Organic beetroot papad
Paan is an Indian classic, which serves as a mouth freshener. The crushing together of paan leaves, cardamom and supari in a lemon sugar syrup gives it a distinct refreshing taste.
Where: Dhaba by Claridges, DLF Place, Saket and Cyber Hub Gurgaon
Price: Rs 195 (non-alchoholic)
Other fusion foods to try: Somrass
Paan leaves crushed together with cardamom and supari in a lemon sugar syrup for mojito
A striking balance of tangy flavours. Tamarind is replaced with lemongrass that adds a unique new punch to the rasam as we know it.
Where: Luxury catering service - Kitc Kitchen Kraft, Call: 8447666166
Price: Rs 1600 plus taxes for a dinner menu
Other fusion foods to try: Olive bhel salad, lobster hawamahal, crab galauti kebab
Pandi & Pita
A new off-shoot of the traditional Coorgi dish where the flavours are unmistakably Indian that are enhanced with addition of spices. The dish is served in a pub grub style with pita bread
Where: M Monkey Bar, Connaught Place
Price: Rs 400 plus taxes
Other fusion foods to try: Reddy's chicken popcorn
Traditional Coorgi dish with a twist served with pita bread
Achari Grilled Basa
The combination of a strong Indian condiment like achar in a grilled dish is uncommon and creates a depth of flavour. The mash, tempered with mustard seeds again creates a tingling juxtaposition of strong and mild spices.
Where: Hauz Khas Social, 9 & 12, Hauz Khas Village
Price: Rs 320 plus taxes
Other fusion foods to try: Keema bruschetta