Monday, January 14, 2013

Everyone knows about salt on food, but what about food on salt ?

Gaze into the deep ferrite light of a massive block of Himalayan salt, and glimpse the unfathomed history of our planet. Pink salt was formed in the Precambrian era, about 600 million years ago, as a great inland sea evaporated. Volcanic and other geological activity then sealed the salt in a hermetic vault where, over eons, it was subjected to the intense pressure and heat of the deep earth.

It is ancient, even in cosmological terms, comes from a savage wilderness, glows with brooding intensity, lends itself to as many creative uses as any salt on the planet; and lets loose its unique spicy hot pungency with all the subtlety of a medieval army – and twice the ingenuity.

The rough salt rocks are then hand cut by local masons into a variety of shapes, providing the foundation for extraordinary new ways to prepare and serve food. The salt’s crystal lattice has a fairly high specific energy (energy per unit of mass), so it will tend to hold any temperature you bring it to for a good while. Also, due to its lack of porosity or moisture, the salt plates can be safely heated or chilled to virtually any extreme.

At Vivanta By Taj, Whitefield, the salt slabs are frozen to 0° C to serve cold or chilled foods such as sashimi of watermelon or a Carpaccio. They are also slow heated to around 300°C to grill meats or fish or just serve a hot grill on the stone. In fact once heated for a few hours the heat within is retained for enough time to have a stir fry counter without a heat source. The scope for innovations is tremendous.

At Latitude, a sample menu for the salt grill serves salt grilled scallops with fennel foam, supreme of tuna with truffle poached sunny side up, a beetroot sorbet with parsley jelly, bloody mary infused rib eye steaks and a flaming grilled chocolate brownie.