Green mint chutney and tomato ketchup are passe, as dips today are no longer just sides taking a backseat, but equally the focus as the entrées.
Spicy, tangy, sweet, hot, cold or creamy. Indeed, a zesty and appetising dip, served with pita bread, lavash, crackers, nachos, or any finger food at a party, can enhance the flavour and make a mundane dish come to life. Guacamole, Aioli, Chipotle, Hummus, are some popular entrants.
According to Rajinder Sareen, Executive Sous Chef, Park Hyatt Goa, “Dips spell the essence of a cuisine. At the beginning of a meal, dips are With a minor twist and combination of ingredients, dips can become the talk of the party.
normally presented with a bread, cracker or crudities as an ‘amuse bouche’ with the primary aim to titillate the palate.” Dips, today, have assumed exotic proportions with a variety of ingredients like blue cheese, avocado, edamame, Greek yoghurt, making their way into these and chefs unleashing their imagination. Chef Neeraj Rawoot, Executive Chef, The Leela Gurgaon, agrees, “Any finger food or any nibble stuff is incomplete without a dip or the sauce accompanying it. It adds flavour, texture and even moisture to the dish.” Dips must be delicious, yet, easy to prepare, as these are only an accompaniment and not too much time and effort is required for them. Just a bit of chopping, mixing, roasting and tempering is all that one must have to do for a dip.
Base is Important
Cheese, sour cream, yoghurt, tomatoes, vegetables, beans and chickpeas, are typical base ingredients for delectable dips. These are selected to give a moist and creamy texture, characteristic of a dip. Of course herbs, caramelised onions, garlic, lemon juice, nuts and olive oil, are added to enhance the flavour quotient. Chef Sareen cautions, “Fresh produce and balance of flavours are key as they add character to the dip.”
Feta cheese, goat cheese, Parmesan and cream cheese are preferred owing to their textures. Today, however, instead of regular yoghurt, Greek yoghurt is used because of its healthy nature and creamy texture.
Fun with Fruits & Veggies
Vegetables like tomatoes, jalapenos, eggplant, spinach, pumpkin and beetroot, lend themselves perfectly for dips. These are sometimes pureed after being boiled, or even added raw. However, to get a unique flavour, try roasting the vegetables, before combining them with other ingredients.
Harissa, the spicy and aromatic chilli dip with smoked peppers, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and other spices, staple in North African and Middle Eastern cooking, is gaining popularity in India too. Similarly, the avocado based guacamole is now being given exotic flavour twists by chefs by adding fruits like pineapple, pomegranate and mango, or even edamame, kale and broccoli. With its psychedelic colour, a beet dip is fun to serve with white and pale green vegetables like cauliflower and fennel. A little bit of honey and vinegar amps up the beet flavour.
A spinach and white bean dip can prove to be equally exciting. Spinach combines well with cheese to make a luscious dip. Creamy beans and sundried tomatoes offer the perfect texture and flavour combo in a dip.
Chef Rawoot explains, “The base gives moistness to the dip which can be yoghurt, cream, mayonnaise or soft
Are dips only vegetarian? Tuna with capers, olives and lemon; smoked salmon dip; Blue cheese, bacon and spinach dip, are some of the exciting non-vegetarian dips. Seafood like prawns and crabs, meats like bacon, chicken, are ingredients that can be paired with others to make a smooth, creamy dip. Chef Rawoot, however, prefers non-smooth, rustic dips. He thus recommends a Pulled Crab Claw meat mixed with sour cream, cracked pepper, onion chives accompanied with fresh Romaine hearts.
Today, with people becoming health conscious, many ingredients are being replaced in dips to give them a healthy twist. Replacing sour cream with Lebanese cheese lebneh, reduces the fat content; using drained Greek yoghurt makes the dip even healthier. Avocado is often the choice for healthy dips, as it is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. A dip made with fennel bulb slices, blanched broccoli florets, steamed new potatoes, and carrots is perfect to pair with crudites. Grilled red onions combined with light sour cream and non-fat Greek yoghurt make a balanced and delicious dip for sweet potato chips.
Sweet dips can come handy for cookies and pretzels. Fruits, chocolate, mascarpone cheese and peanut butter are typical ingredients used. Cream cheese, vanilla extract, orange zest, powdered sugar, orange juice and cream, combine to make a tasty sweet dip. Greek yoghurt, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon, make a creamy and appetising dip. Adults opt for a dip made with cocoa powder, honey, vanilla extract and Greek yoghurt. Chef Rajinder Sareen of Park Hyatt Goa, sums up, “When creating a new dip, one must keep in mind the cuisine it will be paired with and the nature of the dish. For example, if using Indian cuisine as a base, then the seasoning should have similar elements too.
written by :-Mini Ribeiro