The phrase ‘Negative Food Pairing’ could be slightly misleading for a lot of people, because it could be easily read as ‘bad food pairing’. What it really means is that we try to avoid using foods that match in terms of flavor. Food pairings can either be positive or negative. Positive pairing means that ingredients share ‘flavor compounds’. These ingredients are more likely to taste well together than ingredients that do not. The theory of negative food pairing is like yin and yang, where you have two things that are totally different, but still go together. Thus, one enhances the other’s good aspects and covers its less desirable qualities, so that they can still be harmonious without blending. This fundamental difference explains the Negative Food Pairing theory completely.
Negative food pairings are complimentary, but they don’t necessarily have the same flavor compounds. Looking at the flavor compounds and food pairing patterns from various cuisines, I realised that Indian cuisine is influenced with strong roots of negative food pairing. Spices play an important role in this. Overlapping flavoring compounds is my trick to succeed in putting this theory to practice.
After many years of research, I have invented a few desserts on the guidelines of negative or heterodox food pairings. There are many more interesting flavor combinations to explore, and that’s how gems such as sea beans, garlic, ginger, millets, chilies and spices became my treasured ingredients to use in desserts. My knowledge of healthy spices and my notorious nature to play with these atypical ingredients helped me design my own unusual spice blends which I use in desserts.
One of such confounding preparation I wish to spell out is Mirchi & Akhrot Halwa. (Green chili & walnut pudding).
Green chilies seem to be the biggest culinary paradox in desserts, but it is a reality. The marvel of Indian cuisine lies in its ingenious use of locally and seasonally available spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits and transform into desserts.
Green chili is considered to a superfood as it is packed with plenty of health benefits and nutrients like vitamin C and iron, reduces sugar and fat cravings, boosts immunity, improves metabolism which in turn supports weight loss & promotes a healthy heart.
Even walnuts are an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals including copper, folic acid, phosphorous, vitamin B & vitamin E. Walnuts and chilies both aid in lowering the bad cholesterol. Hence, this is one of my favorite healthy dessert creations.
Here Is The Full Recipe For Mirchi & Akhrot Halwa:
- Slit green chilies (serrano peppers) – 50 Grams
- Alum powder – 5 Grams
- Jaggery powder – 60 Grams
- Green cardamom powder – 2 Grams
- Ghee (clarified butter) – 30 Grams
- Semolina – 30 Grams
- Khoya (reduced milk solids) – 200 Grams
- Walnuts (lightly toasted) – 50 Grams
- Heat water in a non-stick pan. Add alum and green chilies, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Strain the chilies and repeat this process 4 times to extract the hotness from it.
- Drain and grind the chilies coarsely. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan, add semolina and cook for a minute until it gets a light golden hue.
- Add the ground chilies and sauté for 3-4 minutes. At this stage, add cardamom powder.
- Add chopped khoya and jaggery powder, cook on a low heat till the halwa begins the leave the sides of the pan and releases some ghee. Stir in toasted walnuts and serve warm.
- Calories: 1366 Kcal
- Carbohydrates: 105.1 gm
- Protein: 46.2 gm
- Fat: 82 gm
- Calcium: 1892.2 mg
- phosphorus: 242 mg
- Iron: 8 mg
About Author: Chef Ruchit Harneja is an Executive Pastry chef at Musaafer in Houston, USA.
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