Cooking With Flowers: Quirk Up Your Plate With Pretty Edible Flowers
Edible flowers are commonly used in salads & desserts. Photo: Dreamstime
Ever wondered why a gourmet dish at a restaurant looks so good each time it is presented in front of you? On the contrary, when you try to recreate the same dish at home, it doesn't look as appealing.
The creativity of the chef, and using little things to plate the dish artistically, make all the difference. One such ingredient that has created a rage among chefs is edible flowers. When it comes to food styling, one cannot underestimate the power of these pretty decorations that can be eaten too.
Edible flowers are used by different cultures across the globe to add colour, texture and oomph to a dish. Rose petals have played a major role in Indian cooking for several years by adding both fragrance and flavour to desserts and savoury dishes.
Chefs around the globe use these pretty flowers to not only add extravagance to the recipe, but also to offer that extra zing.
Flowers you can eat
The culinary world boasts of a wide variety of edible flowers. The most common being rose, violet, rosemary, hibiscus and lavender to name a few. Each of these flowers has a distinct taste and flavour that can be paired with different ingredients to get completely varied results. Flowers like violets, roses and lavender have a sweeter taste as compared to rosemary or hibiscus, which means they are preferred to make desserts more than savoury dishes.
Marigold has a spicy, tangy and peppery flavour whereas basil flowers taste very similar to the leaves, but are a lot milder, and borage blossoms taste like cucumber.
Using edible flowers
In the age of MasterChef and food styling, it is quite common to find edible flowers in teas, salads, curries, jams, marinades, garnishes and much more. However, they are used extensively in salads, desserts or simply as a garnish. While flowers that have a certain spiciness to them are rolled into handmade pasta, honeysuckles because of their sweet scent and nectar are commonly used in desserts and teas. Flowers like rosemary, red clove and chives are used in roasts and other savoury dishes because of their strong flavour.
How to quirk up your dish
Edible flowers can be used in many ways, but apart from salads and marinades, these little flowers can also quirk up a regular dish. Here's how -
1. Freeze small colourful flowers into ice cubes and add them to your drinks for an extra kick of flavour and appeal.
2. Use candied flowers to decorate cakes and other desserts.
3. Add little flowers to make flavoured oil and jelly.
4. Garnish dips with flowers like hibiscus (make sure to remove the pistil and stamen).
Flowers are a great way to give an edge to your otherwise plain dish, but even though these may look appealing, make sure to know if they are edible or not to avoid any health issues.
Where to buy
If you are intrested in cooking with edible flowers, you can find them at these stores: Nature's basket, Foodesto and Shophop.