Just as in art, music, dance, and literature, trends in cooking go in and out of vogue. The latest movement to sweep the world’s kitchens is molecular gastronomy, essentially the application of the scientific method to food preparation and presentation.
It is imperative to not only create a mouth-watering dish, but to produce one that looks good too. The visual presentation of your plates should stimulate the appetite; in this post I will show you food presentation with a few simple tips and tricks. Once you learn the basics you enjoy it more than cooking.
So, what is plate presentation? How do you design a plate? What are the do’s and don’ts? These are things which we will discuss here. The first step is to try to visualize the plate in your mind. What do you want it to look like? Is there a design idea you want to deliver. For me, it usually starts with the concept of lines, arcs or circles.
Here we are doing an elevated food presentation. Giving elevation brings visual dimension to the design giving it a 3-D effect. The trick is to plate the elevated item not hiding other ingredients in the plate. The typical spot to place the food is the centre of the plate.
This starter looks simple, though has many items in it.
- Pastas used here are farfalle, spaghetti, fusilli and pasta verde.
- Prawns are grilled with kerala spices, rolled with spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino.
- Palak paneer (used homemade paneer)
- Tadka flavoured lotus seeds.
- Turmeric/ ginger scented potato roasties.
- Parmesan cheese pappad.
- Cajun spiced wedges.
- Unakka Chemmen podi ( sun-dried prawn chutney)
- For garnish strawberry, raspberry, parsley, coriander leaves, water cress, peas, red chilli and corn.
Pasta spaghetti verde
Potato roasty and dill leaves
Watercress, strawberry and raspberry.
Farffale/ fusilli pasta and chilli.
Parmesan pappad and sun-dried prawn chutney.
NB: I have used only a small portion of each item in the plate, so please ignore the quantity I have mentioned in the recipes.
PASTA AGLIO, OLIO E PEPERONCINO
2 to 3 whole fresh peperoncini (small red chiles), or small dried red chiles
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
spaghetti and salt to taste
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
- Remove the stems of the peperoncini, halve them lengthwise, then slice them into 1/4-inch lengths.
- Put the oil, garlic and peperoncini in a large deep pan set over medium-high heat, and cook until the garlic is translucent and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the parsley to the pan, and turn off the heat.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta until it is aldente, nearly but not quite done and still a bit chalky in the middle.
- Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- When the oil has cooled for a couple of minutes, add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and reduce over high heat by about half.
- Add the pasta, and stir vigorously as it continues to cook. Add the reserved pasta water a bit at a time as necessary to finish cooking the pasta, and develop the thickened sauce.
- Season with salt, and serve.
TAWA GRILLED PRAWNS:
8 -large Prawns clean and deveined
1 tbsp – oil
1/2 tsp – salt
1/4 tsp – Turmeric powder
3/4 tsp – Kashmiri Red Chilli powder
1/4 tsp – pepper powder
1 tbsp – oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 spring dark green Curry leaves
1/2 – inch ginger, finely sliced
6- Garlic cloves, finely sliced
1/4 tsp- Turmeric powder
1) Wash, clean and devein prawns.
2) Drain out water completely and wipe with a kitchen towel.
3) Marinate prawns with salt, turmeric, Kashmir red chilli powder and pepper powder and keep aside for half an hour.
4) Insert a tooth pick (soaked in water) from the head to the tail of each prawn (This will prevent the prawns from curling during cooking).
5) Heat oil in tawa or frying pan.
6) Arrange marinated prawns and fry on a slow heat till golden colour, while turning the prawns on both sides so that the spice powders are well coated on the prawns (Adjust heat low to medium and give enough time so that both the sides are cooked).
UNAKKA CHEMMEEN CHAMMANTHI PODI / SUN-DRIED PRAWN CHUTNEY POWDER WITH COCONUT
Dry Prawns /Unakka Chemmeen : 1 cup
Dried Coconut Powder : 1 cup (can use fresh or frozen shredded coconut)
Dried Red Chilli : 3 nos according to your taste or Red Chilli Powder – 1 tbsp Small Red Onions /Shallots : 3-4 nos
Garlic : 5-6 cloves
Curry leaves : 2 sprig
Tamarind : Small ball size
Salt to taste
- Wash the dried prawns well under running water, rinse them 2-3 times, drain out all the excess water and let it dry thoroughly.
- Dry roast prawns to a golden brown and keep it aside.
- Again dry roast coconut with garlic, shallots and curry leaves till the coconut turns golden brown in color and curry leaves turn crisp. Do it in low flame otherwise coconut will not be crisp and brown. (Note: If you are using fresh or frozen coconut, make sure that it is well browned and crisp).
- At the last minute of browning, add tamarind, salt, chilli powder to coconut and mix well. Allow all the things to heat up, switch of stove and mix it with roasted prawns. Let it cool and grind to a powder.
- Yummy chutney powder is ready. Keep it in an air tight container at room temperature.
TADKA FLAVOURED LOTUS SEEDS
Tempering is a cooking technique used in Indian cuisine in which whole spices (and sometimes also other ingredients such as dried chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves, minced ginger and garlic) are roasted briefly in oil or ghee to liberate essential oils from cells and thus enhance their flavours, before being poured, together with the oil, into a dish. Here we have done it with lotus seeds.
Note: Tempering is typically done at the beginning of cooking, before adding the other ingredients for a curry or similar dish, or it may be added to a dish at the end of cooking, just before serving (as with a dal, sambar or stew).
CAJUN SPICED WEDGES
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Ground cumin – 2 teaspoons
Ground coriander-1 teaspoon
Hot paprika- 1 teaspoon
Ground turmeric- 1 teaspoon
Dried oregano -1/2 teaspoon
Ground black pepper-1/2 teaspoon
chilli powder-1/4 teaspoon
Egg whites- 2
(Or you can use readymade Cajun spice)
Baked potatoes, cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Prepare a large baking tray with parchment paper
- Whisk together the olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, oregano, pepper, and chili powder in a large bowl.
- Place the egg whites in a separate large bowl.
- Toss the potato wedges first with the egg whites and then with the olive oil mixture.
- Arrange the seasoned wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 40 minutes.