NEW DELHI: Kitchens have long been laboratories for pesky preparations, ingenious executions, complex methods and state-of-the-art equipments.
Let’s simplify things in 2018, the year of minimalist cooking. The idea of less is more is being adopted by everybody from Michelin star chefs to humble home cooks.
It is a food trend that requires minimal time, effort, equipment and method and puts a premium on good quality ingredients, cooking with what is available, using fresh produce, and keeping storage spaces tidy.
Following sustainable practises is central to the idea of minimalism. “If we have decided to use one particular ingredient such as Celeriac, we use its root, leaf and stem,” says Chef Dhruv Oberoi, Head Chef at Olive Qutub.
The offering of Trumpets and Sunchokes from his kitchen is all about embracing local ingredients such as buckwheat and mushroom, braised farm grown trumpets and drum stick leafs. In his opinion heirloom grains such as millets and variety of indigenous leaves such as jute leaf, red amaranth leaf and wild sorrel will become extremely popular.
The minimalist food approach is an off shoot of the minimalist lifestyle objective that many adopted earlier last year. It’s all about creating room for what’s most important. The origins of this trend can be traced to Japan’s culinary culture where everything from the taste to presentation is minimalist in nature.
The philosophy squares well with the fleet-footed life we lead today. At the core of this practise lies the need for reducing time spent in the kitchen, to be able to make enough for family or important activities.
Working couples Rachit and Misha Jain were early adopters of minimalism in their family. Now inspired by them, a few others have followed suit. Last night, the couple made Grilled Salmon on a bed of Beans that took under 20 minutes to make.
“As my wife seasoned the fish with basic ingredients such as pepper, garlic and salt, I prepared the sauce to drizzle over the fish and the beans,” says Rachit. “The meal was tasty and extremely healthy, but most importantly, it saved enough time for us to sit and enjoy it together.
Streamlining the kitchen with the most essential tools is gathering consideration, particularly home chefs. Minimalism advocates maximum nourishment and minimum paraphernalia.
The true characteristics of minimalist cuisine lies judicious flavouring. Sometimes olive oil and salt is all you need. “Cooking with what’s available is key. Keeping drawers tidy is also important,” says Executive Chef of Lock & Key, Bhasker Chandra.
European, Japanese, Oriental and Indian cuisines are being rearranged into simple yet delicious meals according to Gaurav Raghuvanshi, Executive Chef at Philtre-The Bistro. He recommends Balsamic Pasta, Tomato Artichoke Lentil Soup and Soba Bowls as best examples of minimalist preparations.
Minimalism is also about keeping plates clean. One should be able to see all ingredients, just like in the case of the preparation of Beetroot, Peanut Chops and Goat Cheese Raita by Corporate Chef at the Indian Accent, Manish Mehrotra.
Salads are a big hit with the minimalistic sensibility. With avocado suddenly appearing as the wonder food, preparations with the fruit have become high sellers. The Smashed Avocado preparation made with toasted sesame bread and leaf salad has exemplified the way in which minimalism is embraced at restauranteur Narendra Shukla’s Coffee Bond.
Pastas are a great way to put a meal together in no time. Take for example the recipe of Cacio e pepe that involves drizzling pasta with olive oil, adding butter, black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Another one is pasta Aglio, Olio e Peperocino that requires a few minutes to ready. “All you need is flour, eggs, vegetables and pasta,” says Nikhil Rastogi, Executive Chef, Eros Hotel, Nehru Place.
Minimalist baking is picking pace too. You can make Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups with five ingredients namely cocoa butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Oreo Cheesecake Truffles can be made by mixing cream cheese and cookie crumbs and then dipping them in chocolate. “You should be able to see and taste each ingredient individually while following a minimalist approach,” says Chef Piyush Jain. Whether sweet or savoury, minimalism is proving to be an empowering tool for personal freedom.
It’s a food philosophy that requires minimal time, ingredients, equipment and method. It’s about putting a premium on good quality ingredients, cooking with what is alreayd available in your kitchen, using fresh produce, following sustainable practises and keeping storage spaces tidy.
Heirloom grains such as millets including Foxtail, Ragi, Jowar, Barnyard, Bajra, Proso and Kodo, in addition to indigenous leaves such as Jute leaf, Red Amaranth leaf, wild sorrel and others will become popular ingredients for minimalist cuisine