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Deconstructed Platter

My apple pie is in pieces

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Chefs across the country are deconstructing classic recipes and plating them with a twist

A deconstructed platter looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. All chaos and confusion at first glance, but look deeper and you'll see an underlying method to the madness.

The deconstructed dish, as legend goes, was born in an Eton dining hall when a cook dropped a tray of meringues on the floor and instead of putting them to waste created a deconstruction. But it was Spanish chef Ferran Adria of the award-winning elBulli restaurant who made it a science.

Now, chefs across India are breaking down classic recipes and giving them their own twist. "Deconstructing food essentially means taking individual elements of a classic dish such as an apple pie or a lasagne and separating them to create a fresh and contemporary form, " says chef Azad Arif of Mumbai-based restaurant, Otto Infinito.

At his modern Mediterranean diner, deconstructed Caesar and Waldorf salads rule the menu with various elements such as the dressing, vegetables, fruits, cheeses and croutons scattered across the plate instead of being sensibly tossed together.

At Bangalore-based Caperberry, chef Abhijit Saha breaks down the classic Insalata Caprese, a classic Italian salad with chopped fruit and cheese, into tomato, basil and olive oil sorbet, balsamic jelly and molecularly treated mozzarella spheres.

Both Arif and Saha say the key to deconstruction is to ensure that the individual elements are recognisable by themselves but work in cohesion.

The taste and flavour of the dishes remain the same as their classic counterparts, only texture and form differ. Delhi-based chef Rajat Tuli of Double Tree at Hilton Gurgaon, says, "If you make tiramisu and set it in a bowl, all the layers come in contact and there is interaction of flavours. In a deconstructed dish, the components come alive since they have been freshly made and plated. You taste the biscuit, coffee concoction and cream cheese independently. "

According to a recent survey by the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association, deconstructed desserts are among the top food trends in the industry. Chef Milind Patel, who heads the kitchens at Kitsch and Harajuku at Pune and Goa's The O Hotel, says the dessert course is the best place to introduce deconstruction. "As we are a country of dessert lovers, guests are more likely to try deconstructed apple crumble than murg makhani with dissected gravy, meat and spices. "

As commonly deconstructed desserts such as carrot cake, trifle pudding and Black Forest cake have few elements, they are easy to assemble. "On the other hand, a classic lasagne or a seafood pie has several ingredients that need to be cooked in synergy and not separately for accurate results, " he says. Mumbai-based culinary consultant Nidhi Behl of Tout de Suite says that deconstruction is a healthier way of presenting food. "The sultry springsummer weather begs for light and refreshing food. Deconstruction is the perfect way to break down last season's hearty recipes into simple and effortless fare, " she says.

Chef Sheldon Engineer of Pune's Cocopara agrees and explains how he breaks down the substantial Shepherd's pie to suit the appetites and weather here. The dish is served as one portion of gently-cooked lamb mince with a piping of mashed potato and sprinkling of crumbs instead of a heavy-duty buttery base stuffed with meat. "During deconstruction, all the elements are cooked lightly to retain flavours and are usually served in smaller portions since there is so much to display, " he says.

 

TAKE YOUR SALAD APART

 

DECONSTRUCTED SPRING GARDEN

 

Ingredients for faux soil

 

2 slices of bread (toasted) 1 garlic clove (minced) 1 tbsp kalamata olives (minced) 1 tsp fresh herbs (minced) Salt to season Olive oil to sautê

 

Ingredients for dressing

 

1 garlic clove (grated) ? cup balsamic vinegar ? cup extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp fresh herbs (minced) 1 pinch sugar, salt and pepper to taste

 

Ingredients for salad

 

3 beetroots (baked) 2 red radishes (thinly sliced) ? cup broad beans (boiled) ? kg baby carrots (peeled) 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

 

METHOD

 

In a bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients and whisk well. To make faux soil, tear bread slices and blend in a food processor. In a pan, heat olive oil and sautê minced garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add herbs and bread crumbs and stir. Remove from fire and add minced olives. Mix well and keep aside.

 

To deconstruct

 

Drizzle salad dressing on the base of your platter and scatter broad beans on top. Lay beetroot wedges in a zigzag pattern and top it with baby carrots and radish circles. Scatter faux soil on the salad and serve immediately. (

 

Recipe courtesy: Nidhi Behl of Toutde Suite

 

 

 

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