Savoury chocolate food dishes you should try
Always thought of chocolate as a dessert? We are here to change your mind with these six savoury dishes from around the world
A report by ResearchAndMarkets.com titled Global Cocoa and Chocolate Market Report 2022 states that the chocolate market is projected to reach USD 160.9 Billion by 2027. The reason behind this growth is thought to be the growing disposable income that is driving the sales of chocolates. It also states that the Asia-Pacific market is the fastest-growing market with Countries such as China, Indonesia, and India being the major players.
The first mention of chocolate is seen in central America where it was extracted in its crude form and a bitter drink was consumed. Giving us some insight into the types of chocolates that is used in cooking, Chef Hanoze Shroff, Executive Chef, Passcode Hospitality, Mumbai says, “Not all chocolates are sweet, it is determined by the amount of cacao used in making the bar. 70-80% dark chocolates have a much higher concentration than regular candy bars.”
Now, Adding chocolate to a savoury dish is not a new trend. In fact, it is an unlikely match that somehow makes perfect sense The 300 plus aromatics of cocoa make it a very complex food that can be paired with various other ingredients and yet allows it to stand apart without dominating the dish.
Chef Avijit Ghosh, Consultant Chef, SMOOR says the reason chocolate works in a savoury food dishes it dues to “It’s the creaminess of the chocolate and its bitter-sweet taste that blends with a range of dishes, which creates an out of the box combinations that everyone can explore.”
When using chocolate in savoury dishes, Neeraj Ging, Master Chef, Royal Orchid Central, Bangalore says,” You can use chocolate in savory dishes but it has to be unsweetened eg. dark or bitter chocolate.
It can be mixed with mayonnaise, or as marinade for meats such as chicken or turkey, or in sauce. Dark chocolate goes well with experimental Oriental food replacing soy sauce.”
Sicilian chocolate lasagna
Sciabbó, a lasagna made with pork ragú seasoned with dark chocolate, is a traditional Christmas day dish in Sicily, especially in the Enna province. This dish starts with onions, carrots and celery. The meat is cooked in red wine and tomato sauce. Chocolate is added to the meat sauce at the end and mixed till it is melted. The dark chocolate adds richness and balances all the flavours of the sauce. Prepare a bechamel sauce and layer the lasagna starting with the ear sauce, pasta sheets, and the white sauce, alternating as you go. For the final layer, spread the bechamel and top with a layer of cheese.
Mole is a Mexican word that refers to different types of sauces. Mole poblano is a thick brown spicy savoury sauce that can be used with any kind of meats like chicken, pork, buff, etc. Made with a variety of chillies, spices like peppercorns, cloves, aniseeds, cinnamon and herbs like thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, the preparation of this sauce can take 3-5 hours. Special Mexican green tomatoes known as tomatillos are also used in this dish. Chocolate is used in very small quantities in this dish and can barely be traced. However, it does add to the overall flavour.
Smeared over a rack of ribs, grilled on a steak, or mixed into pulled pork sandwiches or on burger patties, a chocolate barbecue (BBQ) sauce will take any dish to the next level. BBQ sauce is made by mixing brown sugar or honey with tomato ketchup. Onion and garlic along with spices like cumin, mustard, chili powder, ginger and garlic powder are added to this. Dark chocolate is then mixed in to add a bitterness to this otherwise sweet sauce.
Chilli con carne
Thought to be Mexican, chili con carne, is a spicy stew-like dish and literally means chilli with meat. This dish is made with a protein like beef, pork or venison mincemeat, and vegetables like onions, garlic and tomatoes. Chili peppers, capsicums, red chilli powder and paprika give it a spicy kick. Here, the dark chocolate lends its signature brown colour and is also used to give it a mixture of depth and bitterness while adding a smooth texture to the overall dish.
Part of the Middle Eastern cuisine, hummus is made with cooked chickpeas, sesame paste or tahini, lemon juice and garlic. This savoury dip is eaten with pita bread, chips, vegetable sticks or as a spread in sandwiches, wraps and burgers. It can also be used as a sauce in pastas and noodles. Adding a variety of ingredients to the simple hummus can create new flavours. One such dish is the chocolate hummus or dessert hummus. While still retaining its savoury flavour, the adding of chocolate to it allows you to eat it with chips, cookies, fruits, crackers and more.
Tips to remember:
- In a savoury dish, the hero is always the main ingredient but the supporting actor here is the chocolate. So, it should make a subtle appearance. It is important to decide how to use it, as a garnish, an invisible element in the sauce, a part of a marinade that speaks, or simply as itself to add drama to the plate.
-‘Less is always More’ especially in a savoury dish. Chocolate is an add-on to existing flavours and the overall feel, hence the quantity used should escalate and not steal from the main flavours.
- Always use the best quality of chocolate and be clear of the type to be used. The bitterness, sweetness or richness is determined by the type of chocolate, and needs to be done with much care and precision to get the right balance.
Inputs by Chef Avijit Ghosh, consultant chef, SMOOR