…not just in relationships, but on your plate too.
Matchmakes five basic tastes to give you a duck soup guide to pairing ingredients the right way
Ever wondered why the right way to eat gathiya-jalebi is to take one bite of each until you’ve gobbled it up? Or why sweet chocolate spread translates into a decadent snack when applied on buttered bread? And why salty almonds are addictive, or why fenugreek turns palatable the moment it hits lemon juice? Welcome to the befuddling world of tastes. To cook an epicurean meal is to take into consideration all these flavours and work them in cohesion. Here is our fool proof guide to matching core flavours with one another:
Watermelon and feta, salt and caramel, blue cheese and chocolate –
though these combinations sound odd at first, there are no two
flavours that work as well as sweet and salt. Salt enhances the
effect of whatever it is added to — bitter, sour, spicy or salty
foods. Added to a naturally-sweet ingredient like sweet
corn, sweet potato, caramel, jelly or almonds, salt cuts through the extra saccharine-ness, balancing the flavour by giving it a saline edge.
For an Indian palate, this combination works best. Spicy is like an
advanced version of salty — with more intricacies and dimensions. Salt
enhances the spice quotient of an ingredient and makes it more
palatable. Take for example Kerala’s masala-coated chips or jalapeno
bread rolls and wasabi-hinted mayonnaise. The spicy elements in these
combinations work to enhance the flavour of the overall dish. Most
chefs balance out this duo by adding a touch of honey or a pinch of
sugar to create well-roundedness.
Bitter can be controlled if a dash of sweetness is added to it. This
gives you the health benefits of consuming bitter foods without having
to ingest the horrible taste! Add a drop of honey to a spinach smoothie or mix sweet chunks of pineapple to a kale
salad. Innately-bitter ingredients such as brinjal can be countered with
a touch of sweet saffron.
Umami, the fifth taste, is hard to describe, but easy to detect once it’s
on your tongue. The rich savoury taste that feels like it has the
right amount of sweet, sour, salty and bitter is umami. Commonly found
in ingredients such as mushrooms, certain cheeses and soy sauce, umami
flavour goes well with anything. Combinations such as chilli sauce and
shiitake mushroom, bamboo shoot with sambal, truffle and
parmesan, tofu/seaweed and green tea show how umami
flavours can be paired with almost anything!