Food trends: Spruce up your platter with spices

What does the first morsel of a dish tell you about its taste? Whether the salt is proportionate and if the food is spicy enough! Most people don’t like bland food and of course no one wants a spoonful of anything that makes tear-tracks down your face due to its spiciness. And that’s what the latest spicy food trend is all about: Innovative ways to add heat to your cuisine and enrich your gastronomical experience.

Let’s twist it up

While not denigrating the ubiquitous green chilli, there are other ingredients that can add zest to your food. Chef Sandeep Bhandari, Sous Chef, Sayaji Hotel, Pune, explains, “Using hot peppers, sambal, peppercorns, garlic and ginger can increase the spice levels. Just a pinch of curry powder adds a different flavour to a recipe.”

Chef Prashant Jain, Head Chef, The Burger Company, India, feels it isn’t necessary to add chillies for food to be spicy. “In fact, there are multiple ways. One can use spices in the sauces or burger patty or even in dips served as sides. Or just mix it in with the other ingredients so that the chilli is not dominating but the core taste and spiciness is there,” he says.

Black beans and corn stuffed jalapenos
Black beans and corn stuffed jalapenos

Chef Deepak Dandge, Executive Chef, The Park, Mumbai suggests the use of mustard seed powder, horseradish, wasabi root, pepper (black, red and green), and sichuan pepper to enhance the taste of a dish. “Many recipes or dishes have their own twist. For instance, cheese with chilli, pizza with spicy sausages, jalapeno filled with spicy beans, etc,” he explains.

Full of flavours

According to Chef Dandge, chilli peppers play an important role in the food industry today. They enhance the flavour — heat, pungency, warmth and bite — as well as the colour of the actual dish. What’s interesting is that some people may prefer subtle heat, while others hanker for the more in-your-face raging spice levels!

“Research indicates that most people enjoy Mexican food the most, followed by Chinese, Indian and Thai food. And Mexicans prefer a high level of heat in their food! Apart from different perceptions of heat, people have varied preferences for hot and spicy food, even in the same region. For instance, the French prefer subtle heat flavours that are not overtly spicy,” he explains.

Corroborating that, Chef Jain, Head Chef, The Burger Company, India, acknowledges Indians’ love for spices and spicy food. “This trend will continue as we need to tickle our taste buds. For instance, we have a unique product mix of western and Indian burgers. Those looking for spicy food love our Indian burgers,” he states.

Chef Bhandari, Sous Chef, Sayaji Hotel, Pune, feels that spicy flavours can be called one of the most important food trends at present. “Chilli peppers are a major source of spice in food and play an important role. They enhance the flavour, heat, pungency and bite in a dish and boost the final colour and presentation as well. Chilli peppers have a distinctive piquant, hot and fiery taste and is the complete opposite of mild food,” he says.

It’s the time to drool

Some hot-on-the-heat-factor dishes that Chef Dandge swears by are Phaal Curry made with Bhut Jolokia, South Indian Chilli Beef (Beef with Chillies), Andhra Chilli Chicken (Guntur Chilli with Fried Chicken) and Laal Maas (famous Rajasthani Mutton also called Jungle Maas). Who says Indians can’t take the heat!

Laal Maas
Laal Maas

Chef Bhandari reveals, “Indian cuisine comprises a variety of regional and traditional dishes that use Indian spices which were exported from our country and traded around Europe and the rest of Asia. And now they enjoy hot Indian dishes! For instance, Chicken Tikka Masala. Marinate the chicken with yogurt and curry spices and serve on a skewer or serve in a tomato gravy, which boasts of Indian spices. Both work! Or try the Kashmiri Mutton Rogan Josh, which is basically succulent pieces of lamb braised in a gravy flavoured with aromatic spices, mainly Kashmiri chilli pepper.”

Red alert!

­So while we are all for flavoursome fiery food, most of us don’t bargain on gulping down glasses of water after each spicy morsel. Chef Jain cautions, “People often add so many chillies that the food becomes inedible! Remember that ­spiciness is a must, but it cannot be the only flavour in a dish. Be it curries or new-age burgers, it’s important to keep a check on the spice level.”

Prawn Bhavnagri Chilli

Food trends: Spruce up your platter with spices

Ingredients:

Prawns – 200 gms

Egg – 1 

Garlic – 10 gms

Ginger – 10 gms

Coriander Root – 20 gms

Spring Onion – 20 gms

Jaggery – 10 gms

Bhavanagri Chili Paste – 50 gms

Green Chilli Paste – 20 gms

Light Soy – 10 ml

Oyster Sauce – 15 ml

Salt, to taste 

Pepper – 7 gms

Sugar – 5 gms  

Method:

Heat the oil. Add sliced garlic and ginger. Then add Bhavnagari chilli paste to it and sauté well. Add chilli paste and cook it well. Add spring onion batons and chopped coriander root. Sauté well. Add jaggery to the mixture and cool it. Now grind the mixture and keep it aside.

For prawns, add egg, corn flour, salt, pepper powder and fry. Heat the oil, sauté the Bhavnagari chilli roundels and keep aside for garnish. Heat the oil and sauté the mixture we kept aside earlier. Add little oyster sauce, light soy sauce and sugar. Add corn flour to the sauce and adjust the consistency. Now add the crispy prawns to the sauce and give it a light toss. Garnish with chilli roundels.

— Chef Deepak Dandge, Executive Chef, The Park Mumbai

Ghost Rider Burger

Food trends: Spruce up your platter with spices
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Ingredients:

Burger Bun — 1

Lettuce Iceberg — 50 gms

Onion Slice 2

Jalapenos — 4 to 5 pcs

Liquid Cheddar Cheese — 40 gms

Bhoot Jholokia Chilli — 1/2

Vinaigrette Sauce — 2 tbsp

Minced Chicken/Mix Veggies —100 gms

Method:

Take the minced chicken in a bowl and season with black pepper and salt. Mix it well to make a round shaped patty. Put 1 tbsp butter on griller or pan. Grill it till completely cooked from both sides. Take the bun, grease it with butter and toast till golden brown. Blend the Bhut Jholokia and vinaigrette in a jar. Put fresh crunch iceberg on bun heel. Then put the chicken patty followed by vinaigrette bhoot jholokia sauce on it. Top it with onion rings and jalapenos. Pour in melted Cheddar Cheese over the burger and place crown on top. And enjoy THE GHOST RIDER - Spiciest Burger in the Town.

— Chef Prashant Jain, Head Chef, The Burger Company, India

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