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

HT Cafe - - HTCAFÉ LIFESTYLE - An­jali Shetty an­[email protected]

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.”

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