Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Don't kill me yet! Ideas with Jam.. beyond breakfast and in Indian recipes?

Fig Chutney from the Lust Pantry.
Good jam, full of the fragrant, vibrant fruit and tangy sweetness, capturing the full, rounded flavor of summer's always make me feel grateful that someone put the time and effort to bottle the flavours of summer in a jar! I make a lot of my own Jams, and I am really particular about the little Jam I buy. Bonne Maman Jams are one of the few I do buy, because they meet me parameters of a good jam and my kids love them. 

So I was happy to attend a lovely Champagne Brunch hosted by Bonne Maman and Atout France at the Artisan restaurant, Sofitel BKC. A beautiful spread of breakfast treats - French breads, meats, cheeses and more awaited us, alongside Bonne Maman preserves. What made the brunch unusual  however was that the chef at Artisan, encouraged by Sheetal Wadhwa-Munshaw, had used Bonne Maman jams in Indian dishes to give them intriguing twists! 

Dhoklas, were zinged up with chillies and Raspberry preserve into Khaman Dhokla Raspberry Preserve Sandwiches, Dahi Wadas were given a twist with fresh fruit preserve chutney and Maska Pav were made into the most decadent French toasts! The Khaman Dhokla Raspberry Preserve was the one that I loved! If like me you have drool over Dhokla and aamras as a combination (a classic Gujaratis love) then you will totally love the idea of savoury, tangy fermented dhoklas with a spike of green chillies and spread of fruity sweet sour Raspberry Jam. 

It got me thinking, all the way home,  of ways to use Jam beyond breakfast in the Indian Kitchen. Here are some ideas...

What is very important in all of these ideas however is a good jam. It will make all the difference to the dish! 

What makes a good Jam ?

- A good jam should look fresh and bright rather than cooked and dull.

- It should be low on sugar - look for a soft set that moves around on shaking the bottle. A hard un-moving mass means there is too much sugar. 
- It should be high on fruit. I make my jams and marmalades with as much fruit and juice as I can, combining ripe and semi ripe fruit to balance tartness and avoid using added pectin. Or I will use only ripe fruit and low-sugar pectin, which allows jam to gel quickly without overcooking, avoiding a cooked to death flavour.  

Drink up! 
The first thing that came to mind was beverages. Jams are great in milkshakes and smoothies, but have you thought of mocktails and cocktails with jam? Most require syrups to sweeten, so why not Jam? Shake jam into literally any mocktail or cocktail.

- Soda Bottle does their own 'Raspberry' by crushing fresh raspberries into soda. A riff on that with Raspberry jam and lemon juice would be fantastic in this heat methinks! 
- And jams with real fruit or pulp could really add flavour and texture to Cocktails..think...  a whiskey cocktail with marmalade or a peach jam and a hint of garam masala, or pepper vodka with raspberry jam and curry leaves, or gin with an orange marmalade kala namak and long pepper..... 
- Jams could also work beautifully in hot drinks. I remember a Korean friend that used Lemon marmalade to make a hot lemon 'Tea'. I often make that. And I can well imagine a hot toddy with a bit of orange marmalade and ginger perhaps. 
- Talking of hot drinks, soups come to mind, a pineapple jam in a rassam? or a mango jam to make a spin on the Gujarati Fajeto?    
Make dips spreads and dressings! 

Add Jams to salad dressings and vinaigrettes that make salads zing! Mix jam into all sorts of dips.

- Try Raspberry jam, lime, green chillies and garlic, tossed with bitter greens and Kali miri chicken or paneer. 
- Puree cherry jam with mint kala namak and pepper to make a chutney for kebabs. 
- Make flavored ghee. Soften ghee and mix with your favourite jam, add a pinch of salt and make a salty, sweet, creamy sauce to glaze hot chapattis or parathas with. 
- Jam is a great flavoring for cream cheese as well, try mixing a blueberry jam with cream cheese, a hint of salt and green chillies for a beautiful topping on a bagel.

Get Cheesy!  
Take your palate on a sweet and savory adventure! Jam and cheese pair exceptionally well together. But you know what else works? a bit of spice!  For a perfect brunch, lunch, or a quick dinner put jam with cheese  and light a fire around them!

- Try orange marmalade on brie dusted with garam masalla. Bake till melty and serve on a bed of baby spinach with toasted Naan to dip! 
- Top a wheel of cheese with a few spoonfuls of cherry jam, dust with pepper, wrap in a roomali roti and bake.
- Fire up your tava and make cheesy 'rotiwitches' (yes they are as sinful as they sound). Brush tawa with butter or ghee, place a roti spread with jam (I like currant or cherry), top with grated Gruyere or a sharp chedder, sprinkle with minced green chillies, cover with another roti and (I often add ham or bacon slivers) toast to golden and crispy on both sides. Thank me later! (The jam is what makes them ultimate.) 
- Prefer bread ? Take a Pav, spread with raspberry jam, layer with smoked ham and cheese, top with kasundi and green chillies and press together. Dip the whole sandwich in egg batter and pan fry in butter. 

Mix Sweet and Spicy!
Jams  are ideal to add sweet, fruity notes to spicy recipes. Fruity jams like apricot make an amazing fruity glaze for meats. But I am thinking more adventurously... 

Ham glazed with Bonne Maman Peach ham at Artisan
- A Red currant or strawberry jam, with bhoot jholokia sauce to marinate chicken tangdis or kebabs come to mind. Or a fruity jam with mirchi or sriracha sauce to make a BBQ sauce or glaze! Brush over chicken tangdis, or add to prawns to make them sticky and finger-licking!
- Use a fruity jam like apricot in a cashew based curry, not only will it  help thicken it, but add subtle fruity notes of sweetness and flavor to complement the cashew and spices. 
- Peach jam and old monk rum, with chai masalla will make a great basting sauce for pork chops, ham or even a whole roast chicken! 
- One of my favourite things to do is rub chicken with a marinade of salt, lemon, ginger paste, guava, pineapple or apricot jam, chilli powder and toasted cumin and bake. As chicken bakes, the tropical flavors intensify and the marinade cooks to a  wonderful thick glaze. Or skewer the chicken alternately with pineapple chunks and lemon slices and grill for delish kebabs! 

Sweet finales in Mithai! 
Jam in desserts is a no brainer of course. But sweet sour jams could bring so much layering of flavour to Indian sweets. 

-  The bittersweet or sweet sour notes of jams and marmalades can add nuances to many Indian desserts, giving things a lovely layering of flavour and cutting through sweetness.  
- Perhaps a cham cham sandwich with a bit of marmalade in the filling? 
- Or The next time you make balu shahi how about a jam flavoured chashni to soak it into? 
- Maybe a Kesari Halwa with pineapple jam or Orange marmalade? 
- Or swirl jams into mawa cakes, dollop onto khari biscuits, and butter kharis, glaze nankhatais and flavour syrups for Rasgullas and Gulab Jamuns?

Lust Pantry at APB Cooks Studio
I can see many of you looking skeptical. But I don't suggest these ideas lightly. Mixing things up is always a risk. And Fusion gets a lot of bad press. But thoughtfully done, with due respect paid to ingredients and cuisines it can offer up delicious results, especially for those of us who like to taste new foods. After all, fusion is what has driven cuisines to be what they are today. If our ancestors had not experimented we would not have cuisines, would we? A classic example is our own Indian Chinese food. Most of the dishes would be unheard of in China. Its essentially pakoras in spicy sauces! But it is successful enough to be on every street corner in the country! Because it marries crisp textures and layered flavours with spicyness, everything the Indian palate loves, regardless of any culinary rules! Successful fusion can bring together familiar foods in unusual combinations to make a new dish. And done well, it works for me. 

GYAAN and Links
Here is a video capturing glimpses of the Champagne Brunch!

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