During a science of cooking class, we were discussing how appearance is a driving force to perceiving taste.
How different colours, shapes and sizes of food affect what you taste. To understand this better, we got chocolate and sugar candies on two separate days in class.
The chocolates were individually wrapped in various coloured foils, and were in different shapes and sizes. We had to complete a blind tasting of each of these chocolates and write down our perception of which chocolate was most bitter.
During the next class, we had bowls of different colours, shapes and sizes. Sugar candies were placed in each of these bowls. We had to find out the sweetest of them all. After everyone had completed the survey, the result showed that a majority of the people thought the candy in the blue bowl was sweetest. While the candy in the red bowl was considered least sweet. As it turned out, everyone was wrong, as all the candies were the same. This helps us to understand that presentation makes all the difference. Thus the first impression always counts!
This thought intrigued us a lot and we set out to try something new, yet again. This time we made ‘Khandvi’, a traditional Gujarati snack. We followed the age-old recipe and aimed to achieve the desired result. After we had tried and succeeded at rolling-out the khandvis, now was the time for presentation. And as this class is all about innovation, we thought that serving khandvis vertically would be appealing. It was challenging, but we managed to cook the batter properly, roll- out perfect khandvis, plated them and then used the tempering to complete the dish.
Our next experiment was to make a dish which looked enticing. We decided to make the same old khandvi, but this time in a completely new form. We made the batter of khandvi, then added calcium lactate in it. In another bowl, we added sodium alginate to water.
Then slowly we added some batter to the sodium alginate solution to form a sphere. We then dipped this sphere in plain water. This is how we used the reverse spherification method to make khandvi spheres.
Now we had spheres of khandvi which looked like nothing close to a khandvi! We presented them in individual spoons, with some tangy chutney, using the traditional tempering as a garnish.
Each one of us tasted the khandvi sphere and everyone was startled by the burst of flavours, flavours which take you back to each time you had a khandvi. Since the appearance is not that of a khandvi, everyone who did not know what we had prepared, was pleasantly surprised to taste khandvi. It was an amazing experiment to understand how important it is to present anything in an innovative manner.