Food Bytes"Drunken Berries" Column by Monish Gujral in The Sunday Standard

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Sunday, September 11, 2011 11:22 AM IST
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The drunken berries

Monish Gujral Last Updated : 09 Sep 2011 01:40:55 PM IST
I remember, as a child, dipping the black berries, the ones which grew in the garden of our house in old Delhi, in a sweet, spicy and tangy concoction and eating them to our heart’s content, after a few hours.
The process is called macerating. I will share a cool and easy option to make delightful fruit desserts.
What is macerating?
The term means letting food, usually fruit, soak in a liquid to absorb its flavour. Fruits are usually soaked in liqueurs. I mean, fruit that is marinated in liqueurs is being macerated. Maceration refers to soaking or steeping a substance so that it softens. In cooking, maceration is used to refresh dehydrated foods, to flavour various ingredients, and in wine making, when grapes are fermented in their own freshly pressed juice. A wide range of recipes call for maceration, ranging from fruit sauces for desserts to savory sauces for main course dishes. Maceration liquids can also be used for food preservation, as is the case with maraschino cherries, which are macerated in the liquid used to package them.
In Latin, maceratus means “to soften.” The term is used in a wide range of professions, from chemistry to medicine, but all of the uses refer in some way or another to softening. In cooking, maceration typically also adds flavour to the food, through the use of flavouring agents in the macerating liquid. Many culinary traditions include maceration in some of their recipes.
When fruit is macerated, it is actually lightly crushed and then sprinkled with things like sugar, spices, and lemon juice. One popular macerated fruit dish is a sauce which is made by blending strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sugar.
Macerating is similar to marinating—except that your main ingredient is going to be fruit rather than meat or vegetables. The process is simple: Fresh or dried fruit is splashed with or left to sit in a flavoured liquid such as liquor, vinegar, or syrup for a few hours or overnight. In time, the fruit absorbs the liquids and seasonings around it, which causes a slight softening of texture and a shift in flavours. The end result is juicy fruit with amped-up taste.
In many recipes, sprinkling fruit with sugar is referred to as macerating, too. Even though there is no liquid being applied, the open-minded among us will accept that, and here’s why: A sprinkling of sugar draws moisture out of fruit, which ends up combining with the sugar in the bowl to create syrup. The effect is similar to the liquid experience, although the end result will likely have less moisture than those steeped in added liquid from the start. Not a bad thing, this can actually be more desirable for some dishes, like fruit pastries or a fruit salad.

[button color="green" link="""] Click for FRUIT SALAD WITH SPICY RUM AND MINT Recipe [/button]

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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