I have a weakness for chocolates. Who doesn’t actually?
Yes chocolates are synonymous only with desserts, but believe you me, this versatile ingredient, can very well be used in starters, in the main course too and yes, for savoury dishes as well.
Blessed with a sweet tooth, I have always gorged on chocolates since my childhood, but almost always, as desserts. It is only now that one encounters other dishes made of chocolate.
Chocolate in Mexican dishes, is commonplace, but now our Indian chefs too have taken to it, for a variety of cuisines. Dark chocolate however, is the most commonly used by Chefs in cooking. Its silky texture compliments meat dishes, thus enhancing their flavour Trust me, dark chocolate blends well with other ingredients and yet, helps them to retain their flavour, without compromising on its individuality.
Vasant Khot, Pastry Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport goes a step further and says, “It is for a chef to use chocolate differently. I love to experiment and thus have made chocolate hummus, prawn chocolate cocktail, chocolate & corn samosa, spinach & chocolate herb polenta served with white chocolate & sesame tossed squids and chocolate red chilly mascarpone puff. These excite the palate and leave the guest wanting more.”
Don’t go overboard. Use chocolate carefully and in small measure. Don’t go overboard, as too much of it can ruin the flavour of a dish completely. Chocolate teams well with spices like cardamom, cinnamon, chili, mace and lends dishes a unique texture and aroma. Perhaps that is why it has been brought into Indian cuisine too. Some chefs have used it in aloo dum and chicken tikka as well.
Cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate are not sweet at all and have more of a true chocolate quality, so you want to bring out those natural flavours instead of making them reminiscent of the sweet side of chocolate we know and love.
Oriental cuisine too has used chocolate. I have savoured Chocolate Kumquat spring rolls, which are like cylindrical molten cakes with warm chocolate oozing out of a crisp pastry shell.
We Goans, make our pancakes, stuffed with coconut and Goa jaggery. I think these can easily be replaced with chocolate. Another sure hit with chocolate would be ‘patoleos’ (sweet pancakes of moong dal, coconut and jaggery, steamed in turmeric leaves) which we make on August 15. I am going to try some this weekend.