Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Chocolate in Savoury Cooking

Our #LaFeteChocolat has been such a wonderful experience with customers walking around the store with smiles on their faces and chocolate bars stashed in their shopping baskets. The kids had a complete blast; their eyes lit up with the excitement of a choco-licious celebration. People learned of the laborious but amazing journey a cocoa bean undertakes to become the alluring, rich, mysterious treat we know it to be. They tried different types of chocolate in different flavour combinations; with fruits and nuts rounding out the chocolate to create a new, delightful sensation each time. We’re sure our #LaFeteChocolat (and especially the L’Exclusif baking bar) induced cravings for numerous cakes, brownies, cookies, ice creams, tarts and other such chocolate-y desserts.  

Image: Chocolate Tarts
But the simple chocolate bar can reach loftier heights of culinary inspiration when paired with savoury ingredients instead of just sweet flavours. For instance, if you taste a square of dark chocolate as it is, you will experience its cocoa buttery bitter- sweetness melt and envelop the palate. But if you had a tiny fleck of sea salt on that square of chocolate, another rather surprising level of flavour is added to the experience making for an interesting play between the sweet-salt, crunch-softness of the pairing. 

Image: Chocolate with sea salt
However, in savoury foods, chocolate performs an intriguing role. It adds a complex, sharp chocolate-y flavour and rounds out the final taste of a dish. So in a barbecue sauce, unsweetened cocoa powder infuses the typical brown sugar-tomato-vinegar concoction with a dark, mysterious edge which when brushed on grilled meats makes for a finger-licking meal.
For the above mentioned barbecue sauce, saute garlic in olive oil. Add and cook the tomato paste, then add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle powder, smoked paprika powder and brown sugar. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add melted dark chocolate and stir to combine. Simmer till it becomes thick and smooth. Brush this sauce over chicken wings before grilling or spread in a lamb burger. 

Image: Meat covered with rich dark BBQ Chocolate sauce served with rice and garnish
If you are chocolate fanatics like us then we’ve shared here some of our favourite savoury dishes that make use of chocolate as a key ingredient. An easy place to start adding chocolate into a weeknight dinner is pasta with a chocolate marinara sauce. It’s a simple sauce made of garlic, chili flakes, herbs and tomatoes cooked down together that gets a lift by the addition of some chopped dark chocolate. Serve this over cooked pasta garnished with fresh torn basil leaves.

Another delicious dish that features cocoa powder is this eggplant caponata. The classic, hearty Mediterranean appetizer gets yet another level of flavour with the addition of unsweetened cocoa powder. Simply saute onions, raisins, pine nuts, garlic and chili flakes for a few minutes. Then add tomato paste, cocoa powder, cubed eggplant and water and cook down till softened but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper and serve it hot over crispy bruschetta.

Image: Bruschetta of Chocolate Eggplant Caponata

There are many other ways to incorporate chocolate into savoury dishes as well. Like in the Mexican mole sauce served with meat, chocolate chips cooked into a hearty pot of chili con carne or maybe cocoa nibs with sliced sausage on a pizza.

Of course whatever kind of chocolate or meats you decide on for your savoury chocolate experiment, it’s all available at Godrej Nature’s Basket!

Image: La Fete Chocolat at Godrej Nature’s Basket


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