Did you know some of the most unusual flavours are set alight when tea is added to your food? Learn how to cook with tea.
It’s a tough task trying to write a story on the ABCs of tea, and restrict it to just one article. As a nation of tea drinkers and exporters, we cannot begin our day without that special cup.
Sure, tea is a perfect beverage. But it is also a great ingredient in cooking food. What makes it versatile is that it can be used as a marinade, a tenderiser and a condiment. It works because tea imparts a unique flavour.
Cooking with tea
As you experiment with drinking a variety of teas, try using your favourites to flavour foods. “Although it’s always a good idea to buy the best teas for drinking, the best tea should be drunk in its pure state, rather than be married with other flavours in cooking. Does that mean the ‘second best’ (or less) is more suitable for cooking? As Confucius said, ‘Let your palate be your guide’,” says author Diana Rosen.
According to French chef Gregory Bazire at Mumbai’s Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House, the teas primarily used in the kitchen, are jasmine, smokey mountain, Darjeeling, matcha green tea and Earl Grey in pastry preparation. “We need the essence of the tea to infuse the fish, chicken or pasta dough, so a good amount is generally used. The recipes do not catch the bitterness of the tea, since there are other ingredients to balance it out.”
Gregory uses ground tea leaf powder for the Darjeeling risotto and pasta dough, and plain tea leaf for his jasmine marinated chicken salad. For the salad, the chicken is slowly cooked into a broth with onions, ginger, spices and oriental jasmine tea.
Try poaching King fish in a strong smoky mountain decoction, to ensure a very special aroma and colour that will have your guests swooning for more.
Health benefits of tea
Some studies have shown drinking two to three cups of black or green tea per day helps to maintain healthy vascular function (your circulatory system). There is evidence that drinking tea and flavonoids reduces the risk of stroke.
Nutrition experts agree that calorie-free tea is a delicious beverage for hydration. Now, hydration is important for concentration, alertness, speed and sports performance. When you drink tea, you also drink 99.5 per cent water that keeps you hydrated.
Green tea is an excellent calorie-free drink that is great for weight loss, when not consumed with milk or sugar.
Idli dahi chaat
200 gm idli batter
5 gm Earl Grey tea
Salt to taste
White pepper powder to taste
40 gm sweet potato dices
2 gm chaat masala
2 gm dry mango powder
30 ml tamarind chutney
50 g raw mango julienne cuts
2 gm green chilli
2 pcs methi khakra, large
125 gm curd
50 gm sugar
2 gm micro green (beetroot spouts)
15 gm pomegranate seeds
Add Earl Grey into your idli batter.
Steam the idlis.
When idlis are done, let them cool down.
Slice the idlis and pan-fry them in vegetable oil.
Deep-fry the sweet potato dices until golden.
In a mixing bowl, put the idli slices and add the chaat and dry mango powder.
Mix sugar and curd, add salt and pepper.
Add curd on top of the idli, mix together, add the raw mango julienne and green chilli slices. Mix again.
To serve, spread a soup spoon of chutney on each chaat, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, micro green and finish with broken khakra on top of the preparation.
Chicken Kheema bites
250 gm chicken kheema
2 gm garam masala
2 gm cumin powder
2 gm green chilli
2 gm fresh coriander, chopped
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 gm fresh mint leaf
75 gm white bread slices
20 gm pickled tea leaf
15 gm grated cheese
50 gm dry raita
2 gm pea shoot
2 gm spear mint
50 gm tomato confit
50 gm onions
10 gm ginger
2 egg yolks
For coating: Roughly ground a handful of sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax seeds.
Cook the chicken kheema with the garam masala, cumin powder and ginger dices. Finish with the mint and coriander chopped. Add green chilli, onions and grated cheese.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the bread slices and egg yolk to bind the preparation.
Prepare your tikkis with a pinch of pickled tealeaf. Press it together to hold shape whilst frying.
All seeds have been slightly roasted and then grounded.
Egg-wash each tikki and coat them with the seeds.
Deep-fry the tikkis.
Dress your plate with drops of raita, pea shoot and tomato confit. Add the chicken kheema bites.
200 gm Arborio rice
40 g thinly diced onions
10 gm Darjeeling tea
15 gm butter
25 gm parmesan cheese grated
15 ml extra virgin olive oil
5 gm fresh rosemary
50 gm onions, quatered
50 gm zucchini chunks
50 gm pumpkin slices
10 gm dry musk melon
10 gm de seeded dry apricot
Infuse the tea at 90 °C in 1.5 litres of water for three hours. Strain and reserve.
Toss the onions in olive oil, add the rice and cook again for 30 minutes
Add Darjeeling tea, start with covering the rice just at the top, repeat this after about 15 minutes.
While the risotto is cooking, roast your vegetables. Toss it in olive oil and rosemary in the oven at 180°F for 10 minutes and season with salt.
Once the risotto is ready, add the butter in small pieces. Add the parmesan into the risotto.
Plate the risotto. Top it with roasted vegetables and dry fruits.
Recipes courtesy: Chef Gregory Bazire, Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea House, Mumbai