N.Srikanth is a Lecturer,Pastry & Bakery and Advance European Confectionery working at Culinary Academy Of india.
Marriage – is an official name for a bond of love between two people which lasts a lifetime. Marriage brings together individuals with different personalities in terms of thoughts, physical appearance, mental ability, culture, country, region, etc. Together, both become more than their selves. This is not limited to just people; food and cultures often become interlocked in a marriage-like relationship. This has resulted in technological culinary advancements, new recipes being discovered, and fresh food pairings.
This evolution in food can largely be attributed to globalization, overlapping cultures, and social media trends. One such culinary marriage is that of Western desserts with Indian sweets—the best part—foodies the world over love this marriage. And true to the spirit of any celebration, sweets and desserts are part of the occasion.
But before we explore the culinary delicacies that have emerged from this fusion, let’s understand what each culture brought to the dining table.
In India, sweets, commonly referred to as mithai, are a traditional part of the culture and are synonymous with celebrations. A characteristic feature of Indian cuisine is its unique flavor and adventurous cooking methods - sweets are no different. Many of these confections have interesting stories associated with them, and some date back to periods before written literature was made famous. The Halwai or sweet-maker has been a reputed part of the Indian kitchen, and these professionals spend years mastering their craft. What’s more, Indian sweets vary significantly by region, religion, celebration, and occasion. Each region has its specialty, and every festival has a companion sweet. That said, Indian sweets typically consist of milk or flour as the primary ingredient, along with sugar and ghee. Most Indian sweets are served either hot or at room temperature, although the cold sweet range is expansive in itself. Dry fruits and silver warq perform the role of garnishes in Indian sweets.
On the other hand, Western desserts arose as the last meal course and became an integral part of celebrations. The desserts that are traditionally celebratory are usually large or consisting of detailed work. Western desserts typically also consist of flour, milk, butter, cream, and chocolate as essential ingredients, but their use is entirely different from Indian sweets. It’s also hard to narrow down the geography or origin of Western desserts as this term includes French, British, German, and American desserts. Western desserts also usually require many types of equipment, thermometers, and other culinary equipment to get the recipe right. This equipment is hard to find in typical households in India and is usually reserved for quality restaurants and hotels. Due to this equipment availability, local sweet makers have adopted Western techniques and processes and infused them with Indian flavors. As a result, we now see both these cultures coming together in one unique dish.
The fundamental difference between Indian sweets and Western desserts lies in their primary function and product size, usually large. Also, Indian sweets are sweeter and texturally minimal. They also typically are made with readily available ingredients that aren’t extremely costly. Additionally, traditional Indian sweets don’t require restaurant-grade machinery or any sophisticated equipment. That said, the results of the cross-cultural exposure have given rise to an entirely new array of desserts in India. Creativity and flavor pairings are evolving in a less-traveled direction and creating one-of-a-kind culinary experiences like piping whipped malai on top of chamcham or gateaux with the Indian flavors of Gulab Jamun or Rasmalai.
This simple marriage of Western desserts and Indian sweets has yielded a wide variety of dishes. Although most underlying techniques are Western, Indian methods are essential for obtaining results too. Ingredients are chosen either from India or the Western world depending on the suitability and availability of substitutes. Examples of such dishes include the Till-Gud Cake, Gulab-nut (doughnut-shaped gulab jamun), Gajarhalwa Swiss Roll. However, this is not just a non-sensical fusion. As mentioned previously, Indian sweets are usually extremely sweet and heavy. By incorporating flavors, elements, and techniques from the West, contemporary Indian cuisine restaurants lighten the actual sweets while satisfying the Indian flavor palate. This has resulted in some genuinely scrumptious recipes like chocolate chikki bars, coffee rasagullas, and soft caramel patissas.
The pinnacle of such fusion can be seen in elevating traditional Indian sweets with techniques aptly used from either the Indian or the Western repertoire to create textural variation, visual appeal, and old and new flavors. This is particularly evident in dishes like Misti Doi Cannelles, Glazed Kalakand, Hazelnut Bouches, Layered Barfis, and many more. Both Indian sweets and Western desserts are highly skillful areas that require expertise, and bonding them together (if appropriately executed) will lead to a myriad of new textures and flavors. This unique experience is exactly what foodies strive for, and chefs create.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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