5 delish gourmet desserts with a savoury twist

An imaginative range of desserts shine with a sweet-meets-savoury combination to jazz up multi-course meals

Raul Dias
First Published9 Jul 2024, 03:00 PM IST
Kadaknath chicken curry with black sesame ice cream at Kokum Kitchen, Taj Fort Aguada, Goa.
Kadaknath chicken curry with black sesame ice cream at Kokum Kitchen, Taj Fort Aguada, Goa.

A range of gourmet desserts are blurring the boundaries of sweet and savoury. There is a gelato imbued with pizza flavours; colocasia leaf ice cream with salted honey; and idli morsels ensconced in a mawa cake. Each of these will have you guessing that secret ingredient.

Kadaknath Chicken Curry With Black Sesame Ice Cream at Kokum Kitchen, Taj Fort Aguada, Goa
The epitome of a wacky, sweet-meets-savoury dessert is this one-of-a-kind palate confusing dish. Conceptualised by Nishant Diwakar, the hotel’s executive sous chef, this one sees a thick curry made from boneless pieces of the black, local Kadaknath chicken (known for its rich taste and being healthy, as it low in cholesterol and a rich source of iron) served alongside two scoops of black sesame ice cream to complement the dark hue. Billed as a main-dessert hybrid, the slight heat of the spicy (from red chili, coriander and garam masala powders) coconut milk-based curry is the perfect foil to the frozen, earthy taste of the sesame ice cream that’s flecked with whole black sesame seeds. “I felt that to complement the bold flavours of the Kadaknath chicken curry, a black sesame ice cream would be perfect. The combination of the savoury chicken curry and sweet ice cream creates a well-rounded and satisfying dish that is sure to challenge one’s taste buds,” says Diwakar.

Also read: When chef Jacob Jan Boerma ate ’bheja fry’, raw onions in Mumbai

Pass The Salt, Please! at Pass The Salt, Mumbai
Taking a few key pizza elements and giving them a dessert spin, is this recently launched pizzeria in Fort with the gelato-based Pass The Salt, Please!. As its name suggests, this one has a generous sprinkling of pink salt atop a scoop of parmesan gelato that’s served alongside a portion of tomato granita. For its creator, Kruti Sanghvi, who is also the chef and co-founder of the pizzeria, the pairing of salt and ice cream is quite a natural coupling. “Salt is the main identity of our brand. One day, as I was snacking on some parmesan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some pepper, I had the ‘Eureka moment’ of creating a Parmesan gelato with a sprinkle of pink salt for taste and colour. Once we made it, I figured that the plate needed a touch of oomph and that made me reach for tomatoes. The idea was to create something that wasn’t too savoury or jammy which would feel like ketchup. So a (tomato) granita is what worked super well. If you eat it with your eyes closed, it’s almost like having pizza as an ice cream,” believes Sanghvi.

Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich With Soy Caramel at Pandan Club, Chennai
Given its Singaporean and Malaysian-inspired menu, this T. Nagar restobar has on offer the Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich. Nestled between two slices of tricolour milk bread is a scoop of creamy condensed milk ice cream. But the real standout element is the soy caramel drizzle over it. One that adds a distinctive savoury twist. All this, inspired by the ice cream sandwich one finds sold by elderly gentlemen manning push carts along Orchard Road in Singapore. “The idea was to push the boundaries with the deep caramelisation of the toasted bread that pairs well with the caramel sauce. Using soy was a nice way to enhance that caramelisation and the saltiness for balance. I usually like char and soy as elements and tried using the same reference for this dessert,” says Sandesh Reddy, chef and partner at Pandan Club.

Colocasia Leaf Ice Cream With Salted Honey at Fig & Maple, New Delhi
Known multifariously as taro leaves or elephant ears, the colocasia leaf finds itself in a host of savoury dishes from a Hawaiian luau stew to the Maharashtrian snack aloo wadi. At Fig & Maple, it is given a dessert spin in the form of an intensely vegetal tasting colocasia leaf ice cream infused with pandan leaf and coconut milk. This is served atop fluffy pancakes, alongside a quenelle of black sesame ice cream with bits of fresh mango and dehydrated pineapple rounds for texture. All this is then drizzled with some salted honey to bring in a bit more savoury undertones to the dessert. “I wanted to showcase the versatility of the monsoon green beyond the (alu) vadi and it paired beautifully with coconut, pandan and mangoes,” says Radhika Khandelwal, chef-owner of Fig & Maple. “Plus, we had it growing in abundance on the rooftop (of the restaurant) so using it as an ice cream also helped us preserve it.”

Mawa Idli Cake at Avartana, ITC Grand Maratha, Mumbai
Who would have thought in their wildest of dreams that a typical hot south Indian breakfast could morph into a cold plated dessert? Well, that would be Avartana’s senior sous chef Dipti Jadhav. For, she has come up with an entremet-style dessert (that’s part of the multi course dinner menu) where the outer casing of the mini cake is made with mawa (reduced milk solids), combined with jaggery cream. The center is made with soft idli bits soaked in a filter coffee decoction, combined with sesame and jaggery. This is then garnished with a coffee tuile and dusted with beetroot powder. “The thought (behind this dessert) was provoked by a curiosity of binding all the above ingredients with a core memory,” says Jadhav. “In a typical south Indian household, the day doesn’t start without a strong, piping hot filter coffee and idlis for breakfast. It is this idli-meets-filter kaapi surprise element that we wanted our guests to enjoy.”

Raul Dias is a Mumbai-based food and travel writer.

Also read: Add a pop of colour and texture to recipes with frozen peas

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First Published:9 Jul 2024, 03:00 PM IST
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