BOUNTIFUL OF BERRIES
December being the official month to start strawberry picking, chefs tell us on how to use the fruit that is best served in desserts and discuss other ways of using it too
Considered one of the most versatile berries, strawberries are used in almost everything, from sauces, syrups, baked goods to jams and jellies. However, chefs also swear by their use of the berry in savouries such as salad dressings and the good old chat. City chefs share tips on using the berry in different dishes and also reveal some interesting dishes made out of it.
A HIT IN THE KITCHEN
Strawberry season means it’s time to let your favourite fresh and fruity dishes come out to play. From skillet cakes to parfaits, there are plenty of ways to infuse this fan favourite. Celebrity chef, Ajay Chopra, Nine Square India, says, “I personally feel nothing is more inspiring than a seasonal, ripe, juicy and gorgeously plump strawber ry.”
Gautam Samel, chef, The Sassy Spoon, shares that other than eating fresh strawberries, they can be frozen and made into preserves and dried. Also, they can be used in cereal bars. Samel adds, “Strawberries and strawberry flavourings are a popular addition to dairy
products, such as strawberryflavoured milk, strawberry ice cream, strawberry milkshakes, strawberry smoothies and strawberry yogurts, making them one of the favourite berries to be used by chefs in desserts.”
“It’s sweet, refreshing and kids love it. It has the right balance of acidity and sweetness, making it a versatile ingredient to use for desserts,” shares Karen Anand from K’s Kitchen. Amit Sharma, chef and co-founder, Poetry by Love & Cheesecake, says, “Strawberry is an acidic fruit, which goes best with chocolate. In India, strawberries are the only berries that are easily available in the market.”
The natural sweetness, complex flavours and acidity from strawberries make it a great choice for desserts. Kelvin Cheung, corporate chef and F&B director, Aallia Hospitality, says, “Depending on when the strawberry was picked, you have one ingredient with multiple different flavours — from tart to super sweet.”
BEST WAYS TO COOK STRAWBERRIES
The best time to use strawberries when they are fresh, which allows the flavour to speak for itself in the process. Sabyasachi Gorai, chef, Mineority by Saby, says, “I use it mainly for fresh salads and as garnishes for pastries and desserts.”
Strawberries can be slowly stewed and used as a nice compote. Serve thinly sliced strawberries with scallop ceviche, it has the prefect crunch to balance the dish. Turn it into a vinegar and make a dressing from it. This adds refreshing, fruity notes o a simple and humble alad. Husna Jumani , head pastry chef, The Clearing House points out that the easiest way to cook strawberry is to make a compote or slow roast them to oncentrate the flavour. Anjali Pathak, chefounder, Flavour Diaries hares that it’s best not to ver heat strawberries, s they will lose their hape. “I like to use them ncooked or warmed, prinkled with sugar and aired with cream in a resh pastry tart.” Kelvin adds that his avourite way of using trawberries is as a sauce the natural sugars help d complexity in the avour and also balances the dish overall. Instead of using as a main ingredient, strawberries can also be included as an additional element to a dish or simply as a garnish.
INDIAN DISHES CAN BE MADE WITH STRAWBERRIES
Strawberries work really well with a number of Indian dishes mainly — kheer, rabdi, phirni and mawa cakes. But interestingly, it can be used with meaty dishes too. Rishim Sachdeva, head chef, Olive Bar & Kitchen, says, “If acidity and sweetness is well balanced, it would compliment a fatty and spicy duck kebab with Shirmal and tickle the palate with perfect balance.”
Harish Parikh, Eddie’s Bistro, lists his Indian delicacies made of strawberries, “A simple Strawberry lassi, Strawberry barfee dipped in chocolate, Strawberry phirni creme brulee and Cannoli with strawberry mishti doi.”
Chef Nishant Mitra, Eddie’s Bistro, admits that the versatility of the ingredient makes it perfect for salads, pickles, chutneys and what not.He adds, “Its seasonality is a gorgeous heart shaped berry that tends to burst with bright, juicy flavours, working in perfect symphony with other flavours. This makes it a desired ingredient for a dessert.”