From silky sweet to refreshing citrus, every spring season, a floral medley of unique flavours and textures makes every garden brim with beautiful blooms, that can be used to complement a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Nothing spells fancy like a sprinkle of colourful flower petals in a salad, soup or your favourite cocktail. Been used since time immemorial, flowers balance taste, emanates a beautiful fragrance, and improves the aesthetic appeal of a dish.
A fun and easy way to add colour and flavour to gourmet and regular dishes, most edible flowers are best eaten raw—simply pick and rinse with water. Throughout history, flowers have been incorporated in dishes for their beauty and different taste. Victorians decorated cakes with candied flowers and the ancient Romans garnished their dishes with rose petals, and carnations were a crucial ingredient of French liquors.
Closer home, Chennai based photographer, Shefalii Dadabhoy has been experimenting with flowers and creating beautiful artisanal floral brownies. She’s been delivering them across the country as gifts for special occasions. She says, “I have been practising organic farming on my terrace and have been growing flowers that can be eaten for the past 3-4 years.”
Known for curating 12-course private dinners, she adds, “ As a child, we all pressed flowers and made bookmarks and pretty designs. I have taken that passion and hobby just a notch higher and have created brownies and chocolates. My canvas is edible and these beautiful culinary delights have become my speciality.” She further adds, “My friends and patrons alike pushed me to create these beautiful artisanal floral brownies.” Classic fudgy brownie, the dark chocolate raspberry and the choco chip pecan blondie are Shefali’s offerings that promise to transport you to a world of decadence and gourmet charm.
Whether sprinkled on a salad, used as a garnish to up the flavour of a cocktail or candied for a cake, these blooms add a divine touch to every recipe. Chef Nishant Choubey believes edible flowers not only compliment the dish but also tend to enhance the flavour. He says, “They are an absolute treat in beverages, blue tea or butterfly pea flower tea and hibiscus flowers tend to impart natural colour in mocktails or cocktails. Rosella flowers are distinctive and it sustains cooking. However, be very careful while working with edible flowers as one should be careful while picking the right ones.”
Even Dadabhoy feels these flowers should be consumed only if they are grown organically. She adds, “Squash flowers, hibiscus, roses, banana flowers, bougainvillea, calendula, pansies, garlic flowers, kale flowers, arugula along with herbs like dill, dhaniya , mint and basil can easily be grown in home gardens, even in pots and can elevate regular everyday meals including chicken and fish. But remember to pick the ones that you have seen growing in your own garden.”
What’s more, these beautiful creations are pleasing to all senses and once put on a platter, people will be relishing the taste and the presentation for years to come. She adds, “Garlic and dill flowers on hung curd dip will give a soft, sweet-savory flavour and a beautiful colour. Indian households have been preparing Zucchini flower fritters and pumpkin flower pakoras for many decades.”