Welcome to the dark side of things with edible charcoal painting your palate black. Black ice-cream dripping of a wafer cone, succulent meat patty pressed between black buns, creamy mayonnaise oozing out of a black bread sandwich, gooey cheese spurting out of the black pizza crust…it’s all got a bold black makeover.
Not just food, the black fad makes its to the privacy of our homes too, by being bottled up inside face scrubs, bubble baths, shampoos...even teeth whiteners.
The trend has been embraced by the Western world since some time now. It’s only now that it’s found its foothold in India. The black trend seemed downright esoteric when it first came about. Some even dismissed it, but the lingering curiosity around it, hasn’t let it die down.
A substance first used for medical purposes around 1500 BC, has in the 21st century, permitted through medically fit food and beauty products. “It has excellent absorption properties that extract every bit of dirt, toxins and excessive oils from the skin and hair,” says Dr Priyanka Goyat, Aesthetic Science Expert and Co-Founder of Rejove Clinique. Having said that, it must be consumed in moderation.
The edible variety of charcoal is derived by burning coconut shells, plant materials or wood. “The charcoal is activated due to its negative charge, which has the capacity to attract positively charged chemicals (toxins). Hence it becomes a powerful detoxifier,” says Chef Swasti Aggarwal, Food Strategies at Foodhall.
Neeraj Tyagi, the Executive Chef at Shangri-La’s - Eros Hotel, New Delhi has had many customers who have asked for his charcoal ice-cream and Macaroon out of curiosity. Till guests ask for it, he is happy creating these sweet stories.
Confectioneries and superstores are doing their bit delighting the customers with this 100 per cent alkaline ingredient. Foodhall in DLF Place Saket and DLF Promenade has a full stock of black burger buns, charcoal pizza base, activated charcoal bi-colored croissant with sesame cream, charcoal and mint lemonade among more.
Chef Meet Malhotra form Ministry of Beer, Connaught Place, has found a new showstopper at his restaurant. It’s called Mob Lamb Pie with Activated Charcoal Mayo and Garam Masala Pachdi. “It’s a futuristic piece, none like you’ve seen,” he says, adding, “It’s cooked in ragout that’s enclosed with phyllo sheet and then baked until golden brown. A dollop of spiced hung curd and activated charcoal is added to it.”
Activated charcoal even treats hangovers, bloating and high cholesterol. “When I introduced it in my food, people didn’t accept it because of its appearance. Now realising its benefits, more and more people are asking for it” says Chef Chanchal Datta, Executive chef at Molecule who offers Edible Coal served with Lava Ash, and Black Hummus with pita, at his restaurant.