Indian culture is best expressed through food. And fermented delights form a focal point within this atlas of flavours. That’s the mantra Hussain Shahzad, Executive Chef, The Bombay Canteen, and O Pedro, in Mumbai, chants while dishing out his quirky recipes. From his fermenting and pickling repertoire emerges black garlic—the secret inclusion in his cooking arsenal.
“It is the natural umami of black garlic that appeals to me,” says Shahzad. “Preparing them takes over two weeks. Garlic cloves are fermented at a controlled temperature of 40-45 °C under high humidity. When I use this ingredient in a dish, every bite carries that punch, of the sweet, jam-like sticky consistency and the creamy taste. The ageing process saps the harsh pungent rush from the garlic and brings in a floral aroma,” he says.
Shahzad’s love for black garlic makes him experiment with its versatility. Black garlic bread is an ingenious derivative specific to the kitchen at The Bombay Canteen. “I introduced The Black Handvo ‘Toast’ at The Bombay Canteen last June and it continues to be popular even today. Handvo is a savoury steamed cake made using lentils and vegetables. I wanted to bring in black garlic as the hero in this recipe, representing it in a ‘garlic bread’ made with black garlic puree and served up with heirloom tomatoes, rhubarb chundo, whipped goat cheese and Rajkot chutney,”he explains. The chef is convinced that the process of blackening can be employed and used for exciting flavours in many vegetables.
Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard