As food mixologists amp up their game, fusion cuisine has seen an explosive rise on the menus across the Kerala. TNIE takes a look at the latest, trending experiments among some top chefs
A bowl of spicy Mexican flavoured rice topped with chicken tikka, baked pizza wrap in wheat paratha, peri peri beef tacos… These are some popular fusion food delicacies available across Kerala.
Indo-Western cuisines have always been on the trend among Malayalis — be it the main course or a dessert. On a single plate, you have the spices of home and the taste of a continental dish. Now, the increase in curious eating and the influence of social media have expanded the scope of world cuisines in our state, and along with that fusion experiments are also thriving.For chefs across the state, fusion food is a challenging task that tests the mettle of their culinary talents.
Savour the delicacies
Chef Arun Vijayakumar from Thiruvananthapuram says, “Every chef would like to serve something unique to their customers. Fusion food is all about creativity and invention. However, priority is given to taste. So, fusion recipes give a chance for chefs to create a signature dish as well as a unique recipe for the restaurant”.
Arun has been exploring healthy combinations in his culinary journey. His recent creations, quinoa chicken pani puri — quinoa chicken salad stuffed inside the pani puri — masala latte and kunafa-fried honey ice milk etc are crowning jewels of gastronomy.
According to Kalesh K S, executive chef of Crowne Plaza in Kochi, fusion is a tricky term to define. He has been experimenting with the genre for so long and says taste should never come second.
“When merging two or more cuisines, the result should be something new for the palate. I have experimented with many varieties. But blending other cuisines with our nadan recipes is my favourite. It’s because I already know how to balance our traditional ingredients. Also, I am against those who come up with outrageous recipes without any taste in the name of fusion, ”adds Kalesh.
Balance is the key
The veteran chef is known for his art of creating state-of-the-art delicacies. Grilled veg salad in ‘inji puli’ dressing and yam with chilli honey sauce are some of his recent innovations. Kalesh loves to tweak classical recipes to something new and delicious. Imagine Nadan pizza. Kerala paratha as the base with beef biryani dum and cheese carvings as toppings. It is a heavy course and very spicy too. Another nadan and Italian fusion is the lasagna with Malabar ‘adukku rotti’. Both involve layering and filling of meat.
His Jackfruit Ravioli with chilly cardamom foam is the stuff of legends. “But when we experiment, the taste of all the dishes should be balanced. One should not overpower the other. Ravioli is a type of pasta with fillings of meat or cooked vegetables. I stuffed the thin dough with ‘chakka puzhukku’ instead. And instead of sauce, I use a mix of cardamom and chilli froth. It will look like ravioli but the taste is influenced by ‘chakka puzhukku’,” he says.
Why go fusion
According to the executive chef of O by Tamara, Suresh Kumar PM, fusion foods can soothe the eyes as well as taste buds. He has been weaving magic in the High Dive beverage section with his fusion menu.
Macaroni and mushrooms join to create the unusual-sounding Koon Kuzhal Vismayam. “Curious eaters and those who are open to exploring various food types always
INTO THE DESSERTS
From cakes to faloodas, our fusion experiments have no limit. Come festivals, especially Onam and Diwali, the fusion cakes and payasams hit the market, especially in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Home baker Parvathy Ravikumar with her venture Cake’d found her momentum through fusion cakes. She chose fusion cakes by mixing fruits and Indian sweets so that she could stand out. “Last year for Diwali, I made semiya payasam pudding.
And this time for Onam, there was pal payasam-boli stuffed in the jar, which had many takers. Many people enjoy such combinations, which makes bakers like me explore more of their talents,” says Parvathy. Her signature is Mango-Kulfi cakes. Tender coconut pudding cakes are also famous. However, what catches one’s eyes are the elaborate cakes with Indian sweets — ras malai and gulab jamun all appear on cakes in her kitchen. “Fruitbae’s fusion falooda has many fans. Also, nothing can replace the recent innovation by Chef Suresh Pillai’s fusion falooda — Unni appam theen mittayi falooda is heaven,” she adds.