Reimagining food through molecular gastronomy

Last Updated 04 September 2018, 06:24 IST

What is food to you and how would you imagine your food? For anyone a water can be in a liquid state, a biscuit in the form of solid, an egg yolk can be like a jelly format or semi-molten. But would you imagine juice to be like jellies? No right?

Molecular gastronomy is a field that can break your myths and change the state of food. It is a subdiscipline of food science which investigates the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking.

The three main areas of appeal in cooking are social, artistic and technical. Molecular cuisine is a modern style of cooking and takes advantage of many technical innovations from the scientific disciplines.

The word 'Molecular gastronomy' was coined by Physicist Nicholas Kurti, a Hungarian born but settled in Oxford for most of his life.

Imagine cocktails as ice spheres, caviar made of olive oil, disappearing transparant raviolis... Sounds classy right? Much of molecular gastronomy centers around the idea of changing textures, of presenting familiar flavors in unfamiliar presentations.

There are lot of techniques involved in this, wherein a few are given below:



The technique was introduced by El Bulli in 2003. It consists of a controlled jellification of a liquid which forms spheres when submerged in a bath. The spheres can be made of different sizes and have been given names like caviar when they are small, eggs, gnocchi and ravioli when they have larger size.

Molecular mixology:

The scientific equipment, techniques and know-how of molecular gastronomy, generally applied to food, have been quickly adopted by chefs and bartenders to create interesting cocktails and mocktails to provide a different drinking experience.

Sous Vide:

Sous Vide in French means 'under vacuum'. In this technique food is cooked under precise temperature control in heat-stable and vacuumed pouches.

In the 1960s, French and American engineers realised that cooking meat in vacuum bags at relatively low temperature resulted in superior texture compared to a traditionally-cooked product. In 2008, trendsetting chef Thomas Keller released 'Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide' a guide to using the technique, and it quickly became popular at restaurants across the US.


A gel is a jelly-like substance that can have properties ranging from elastic and soft to brittle and stiff. Gels are mostly composed of liquid but they behave more like a solid thanks to a three-dimensional cross-linked network within the liquid. The characteristics of this crossed-linked network determine the properties of the gel. So in short, a gel is a dispersed liquid in a continuous solid phase. Do you remember eating fruit jellies as kids? Well even that was science (Physics to be precise).


We are all familiar with the fact that oil and water don't mix with each other. But do our chefs accept the same? Emulsions, with their creamy textures and unique flavors, combine oil and water into a single stable mix. Depending on the thickener and emulsifier used, an emulsion can have textures ranging from milky to thick and creamy.

Here are few examples: Eggs, milk, ice cream, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes, among others.

Culinary foams:

A foam is simply any liquid or solid that has a gas suspended in it. A kitchen sponge is a foam of air suspended in solid fibres. The head on a beer is a foam of carbon dioxide and air suspended in liquid beer. But the same technique can be used in mint juice recreated as a mint foam as well.


Chocolate Thickeners
Chocolate Thickeners

Heard of chocolate balls in which you find nuts. Yes chocolate syrup poured on balloons and immediately cooled with nitrogen gas to create a hollow effect providing it as a choco bowl is one way of thickeners

Ice cream:

The early day of ice cream were perhaps the most deeply grounded in gastronomical practice. Early ice cream makes use the chemical reaction of rock salt and ice to create creamy, frozen ice cream. These days, we have many different kinds of ice cream machines to help us do the hard work of churning and freezing our creations. At least this one we all know. Isn't it.

(Published 04 September 2018, 06:02 IST)

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