Black is in! I am not taking about fashion, but food. This bizarre culinary trend has sparked conversation among foodies, made headlines in the newspapers and prompted food-lovers to share their pics on social media too. While some might find black food as weird, others do find the “new-gen” concept rather thrilling. Recently, even MasterChef Australia contestants were given a challenge to make something out of all-black ingredients.
The dramatic black-food trend is catching on more because it is nutritious too! Black rice, black garlic, black lentils, black soybeans, black quinoa and blackberries are now taken more seriously because of their health benefits. Move over, old-school squid-ink spaghetti. People are infusing black innovatively in more and more food items. Charcoal powder has made its way into drinks. Black cocktails are making waves all over the world, with charcoal powder muddled with Rum, Whiskey, etc. When it comes to food, in Asia itself, especially in Bangkok (e.g., La Pâtis), you will find places serving jet black charcoal croissants. For instance, a patisserie in Korea serves a black bread made with squid ink. There is a Korean blackbean noodle soup with agar, which is now getting popular even outside Korea. Asian youngsters love charcoal-flavoured ice creams. In North Korea, there is a kind of dumpling which is deliberately made with grated potatoes kept in freezer for a long time so that these turn black. Black foods are in vogue. Black soy milk, macarons made from squid ink, etc., are fast gaining popularity. Black burger is pretty common now and is perhaps the most popular black food trending across the globe. In US, when Burger King launched its Black Kuro Burger using bamboo charcoal as the darkener, McDonald’s was not far behind too, and came up with their version of squid-ink burger. Black buns, black cheese, black sauce and black pepper: welcome to new-age burgers. (By the way, in Mumbai, Monkey Bar serves a black Veggie burger too!)
So now we know, charcoal isn’t just for grilling. Charcoal is the new “edible” black and it is super healthy. While both black charcoal and squid ink are good and natural, using a black edible dye instead of these, is boring. Plus, I would rather not dye my food with artificial black colour! While trying out a homemade version of this thrilling “black”, I rather chose ingredients that are easily available. I looked at my larder: there were black sesame seeds, dried blueberries, black raisins, fresh Kala Jamuns, black salt and wow, the mighty black Chyavanprash! This ice ceam recipe serves four to five scoops of ice cream. I prefer to eat this ice cream in a rather unusual way: sprinkled with black salt and pink peppercorns. Serving it with strawberry syrup not only adds to the berry flavour, but gives a nice colour contrast to this ice cream. And did I tell you that it is dairy-free too?
Chyavanprash-Infused Kala Jamun and Black Sesame Ice Cream
- Fresh ripe, deseeded Kala Jamun (deep purple berries found in India during summers): 400 g
- Patanjali Chyavanprash use any brand: 1 tbsp
- Honey: 1 tbsp
- Castor sugar:6 tbsp
- Toasted black sesame seeds: 3 tbsp
- Black salt: ¼ tsp
- Silken tofu blitzed into a fine paste: 175 g
- Black raisins: ½ cup
- Dried blueberries: ½ cup
- Few red peppercorns toasted black sesame seeds and a sprinkle of black salt for garnish
- Sweet strawberry syrup for garnish optional, but recommended
- Grind the toasted sesame seeds into a fine powder.
- Mixture A: Marinate the deseeded Kala Jamuns for 20 min, with the black salt, Chyavanprash and honey. Make a fine paste with the sesame powder and sugar.
- Mixture B: Soak the raisins and blueberries in water for one hour. Drain the water after one hour and grind it into a fine paste, adding the tofu paste in small quantities, until all the tofu is used up.
- Mix mixtures A and B evenly with a whisk. Pour the mixture into a lock-n-lock container and refrigerate until set. Churn once in between.
- To serve scoop out the ice cream in a plate and drizzle some strawberry syrup over it. Sprinkle some black salt and decorate with a few pink peppercorns and black sesame seeds!