HYDERABAD : Nothing says ‘gourmet’ like a sprinkling of colourful flower petals in a salad, a tiny bouquet of Dianthus on a dessert or a Bachelor Button in a stir fry. Edible flowers are a fun and easy way to add colour and flavour to all sort of dishes, especially when you can pick them right from your own garden.
India’s culinary history shows us that flowers have been used for balancing of tastes, fragrances and even to improve the aesthetic appeal of a dish. For instance, rose petals is commonly sighted as garnish on our Indian mithai, while jasmine, in its dried form, has been a popular pick for cakes, cookies and other bakes.
Since the past decade, the usage of edible flowers is perceived as going above and beyond to create a special experience for the diner. Because the hospitality industry is a competitive one, these extra touches can certainly make a big difference in pleasing diners and guests. I got chatty with chef Sudhir Nayar of
The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace, who has been exploring and using edible flowers since the past few years. Edible flowers add that extra layer of flavour and aroma to culinary dishes with intriguing variations among them. Some taste sweet, while others are sour. Some taste savoury, while others are bitter.
Some have a herbal flavour, while others are vegetal and a few are essentially flavour-neutral, with a more ornamental and textural purpose. No matter which of the edible flowers you use, they all add visual appeal and more to creative dishes, says the chef before offering me his signature Gulaab Kheer from one of his restaurants.
With that said, I thought I’ll deep dive into my creative imagination to explore and use edible flowers, if not anything but at least as garnish de rigueur to my simple home dishes so that it adds a polished pop of colour and beauty to a dish. I started off with citrus begonia to fresh yogurts, dill blooms to omelets and the unabashedly boisterous Dianthus to a bowl of hearty oatmeal. Not gonna lie, but the eye-catchingly beautiful Johnny Jump Up for granola has been my favourite. Candied Viola, Johnny Jump Ups and Begonia go perfectly well in elevating any divine dessert.
The obsession of using edible flowers as garnish has evolved into my mixology routine as well. Edible flowers in clear ice make a beautiful presentation all by themself. A veritable bouquet atop a simple gin and tonic makes it a perfect drink to enjoy on a balmy summer evening.
Whether you call yourself a gourmand, health-conscious or a novelty-seeker, go ahead and deep dive into the creative imagination to please your guests.
(Vishal Fernandes is a profound business traveller and a widely recognised luxury lifestyle blogger)