Reinventing classics: What is Dalgona coffee?
Fritters, chai tea, seasoned foxnuts, turmeric latte — sounds familiar? These are things we have probably grown up eating or drinking (Read: pakode, masala chai, makhana, haldi doodh). There are a number of age-old recipes from our homes which have found their place in the western world and are being rediscovered from time to time, albeit under fancier names. And with self-isolation being the norm at present, this trend is bound to spike, as people have a lot of time on their hands to experiment with a variety of ingredients and create a whole new set of dishes. While they may comprise of the simplest of ingredients that are readily available at home, they attain a new form with a new name.
The latest to join this list of revamped desi recipes is Dalgona coffee. A Korean beverage, which derives its name from its ‘sponge toffee’ like appearance, this beverage has become the talk of the town within no time and is just a few steps away from being declared as the official ‘quarantine drink’! What’s more, the days gone by have seen a number of versions of the drink come out, including some vegan and keto-friendly options.
While it has, undoubtedly, caused a stir on social media, a section of Indian netizens wonder what all the fuss is about, as ‘phenti hui coffee’ has been a childhood favourite for many.
“This is just a reinvented classic. The only difference was that earlier, we used to add milk over the whipped coffee rather than doing it the other way around. Dalgona is just more fashionable and Instagrammable!” says Pranav Sharma, a senior chef. So under the garb of Dalgona, here’s another dish that has brought India back on the food map.
Another trend that’s fast catching up is that of naming dishes creatively in order to attract patrons. “Each restaurant follows their own style of naming of dishes. While some dishes remain commonly named, due to origin or the name of a person, place or ingredient, creativity comes into play for a large part of the menu depending on the positioning of the restaurant, the cuisine and the demographics of the patrons. Eventually, it is the final product served to the guests – the ideal match of taste, presentation and name - that determines the success of the dish!” says Arun Sundararaj, executive chef.
Another dish that’s made its way back to kitchens is haldi doodh – turmeric latte in the West. While the name scores on creativity points, it is essentially our good old turmeric milk with a tinge of honey. And the importance of this beverage at a time like now is something that needs no further explanation.
“While turmeric has been used as a remedy from time immemorial, its consumption has now gained popularity more as a precaution for building health. Similar is the case with the increased focus on other naturally available ingredients such as amla, neem, black pepper and citrus fruits,” opines Vinod Pandey, a hotel manager.
Makhanas, too, saw a boost in consumption after it got revamped as ‘seasoned foxnuts’ and became a regular part of celebrity diets and even our own.
While one may ask, ‘What’s in a name?’, experts believe that a dish is an amalgamation of taste, plating and its name. “The naming of dishes is something that’s both an art and science. The name needs to be relevant, interesting and should tell a story about the dish. I also firmly believe in certain secret ingredients – innovation, empowerment and ‘love’ for your work that adds significantly to culinary prowess,” says Sundararaj.
However, Delhi-based restaurateur Ravinder Saini recommends that one shouldn’t just judge by the name of a dish, and rather assess its nutritional value.
“Take, for instance, the concept of going vegan. Being in a country where a majority of the population is vegetarian, avoiding milk or curd will lead to substantial fall in protein intake…In the name of fashion, one should be aware of what is right and wrong for their body,” he adds.
TIP: If you’re looking for something sweeter, you could replace coffee powder with Matcha, the green tea powder. This could also work for those who prefer tea over coffee.
The importance of haldi doodh is something that needs no explanation, particularly in this day and age. If you want to move away from the conventional beverage, here’s a summer version for you.
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