Just when we began to embrace the colourful craze of unicorn food, a dark matter entered to turn the food environment black. Say ‘hello’ to activated charcoal dishes that most chefs seem to be extensively using in their menus these days.
If you have seen burger buns, cappuccino, noodles, bread or ice cream black in colour and wondered what it is, well, let me tell you, it’s just your everyday food that’s gone black due to the addition of activated charcoal powder.
So what is activated charcoal and is it safe to consume?
Activated charcoal is nothing but a by-product of burning wood, coconut shells, bamboo or other plant materials. It’s when the organic matter is exposed to high temperature, it activates during the process and turns back. It is different from consuming food that is burnt or charred, so don’t worry. Many cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies seem to be benefiting with its usage. Activated charcoal is known to absorb chemicals and bind to both toxins and vital nutrients like vitamins. Claimed to be the new detox product, the powder has the ability to cleanse your system, cure a hangover, whiten your teeth and reduce bloating. If you’re still wondering how it actually works, allow me to explain. The porous surface of the matter that is activated charcoal now has a negative electric charge which causes positive charged toxins and gas to bond with it. However, don’t mistake this charcoal to be the one that you use to barbecue. Those are not to be consumed at any cost! Having said that, you shouldn’t consume too much of it either as it not only removes the toxic elements but also the nutrients from your body, which could be harmful.
How do you use it in cooking?
It’s pretty much a colouring agent. It adds an extra edge to your dish and is definitely unusual. It gives an earthy, slightly smoky taste to your dish which many seems to enjoy with the respective flavour combination. Chefs advise that you use only a certain amount of it when cooking. Back in 2012, Burger King started the trend with ‘kuro burger’ in Japan, where they sandwiched the patty between the black buns and used black cheese and sauce made with squid ink. This took over the social media world and everyone wanted to get their hands on it. Soon enough, charcoal ice cream took over. This was then followed by smoothies, bread, hot dogs, macarons to even appams! Thanks to chefs also taking notice to the trend, city chefs, too, are experimenting with the ingredient and using it extensively in the menu. After all, it makes for a fantastic Instagram post – a must-do for every foodie nowadays.
Activated charcoal dishes in Bengaluru
Black Waffles at Waffle Stories, Jayanagar Activated Charcoal Ice Cream at Terra Bites, Koramangala Charcoal Dumplings at DYLT Bar & Lounge, Hennur Charcoal Pancake with Malwani Prawns at Maziga, Whitefield Stuffed Pork Burger with Charcoal Bun at XOOX Brewmill, Koramangala Activated Charcoal Pizza at The Bier Library, Koramangala
Charcoal Samosa at The Open Box, St Mark’s Road Charcoal Chicken at Salt - Indian Restaurant Bar & Grill, Koramangala.