Understanding The Evolution Of Summer Flavours In Culinary World

As the scorching summer sun beats down, chefs across India are busy crafting menus that celebrate the vibrant and refreshing flavours of the season. From succulent mangoes to refreshing watermelons, the abundance of summer produce provides a rich palette for culinary innovation. Chefs are not only ensuring that their creations are fresh and seasonal, but they are also incorporating unique twists and modern techniques to elevate traditional dishes. We explored how chefs from various renowned restaurants in India embrace summer flavours, blending authenticity with exotic elements to create unforgettable dining experiences. 

The Art of Freshness and Seasonality 

At Issa in Siolim, Goa, Chef Vijay Bawangade underscores the importance of freshness in his summer menu. "Each season offers several varieties of ingredients," he explains. "As a chef, it’s important to make sure every ingredient in the kitchen is as fresh as it can be. Emphasis on freshness not only enhances the flavour but also the quality of the dish." This philosophy drives his approach to sourcing ingredients—fruits at their peak ripeness, seafood caught during the season, and hand-picked herbs are integral to his culinary creations. 

Chef Bawangade structures his summer menu around themes that capture the essence of the season. Drawing inspiration from tropical elements like mangoes, pineapples, and coconuts, his dishes aim to deliver a dining experience that resonates with diners, transporting them to various culinary worlds. At Issa, the menu showcases a blend of coastal and local ingredients, transforming traditional Goan dishes into modern culinary experiences. For instance, the traditional Goan thali is given a contemporary twist, and the local Goan sausage, Chorizo, is paired with Chilli kokum relish in a reimagined Choris pao. These dishes reflect Goan food history while appealing to contemporary tastes. 

Simplicity and Colours in Summer Dishes 

Tanvi Shah, Head Chef at Sukoon by Joshi House, also prioritizes freshness in her summer creations. "We believe in celebrating the simplicity and vibrancy of seasonal ingredients, ensuring each dish captures the essence of summer," she says. This philosophy is evident in dishes like Tangy Mango Sourdough Toast and Makhana and Edamame Warm Salad, which have become favourites among their guests. The focus on simplicity allows the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine. 

Chef Shah's approach to pairing ingredients revolves around achieving balance on the plate. Whether it’s the creamy goodness of Mango and Avocado Salad or the tangy zest of their Summer Salad, each dish is curated to ensure complementary flavours and textures. At Sukoon, regional aspects and hyper-local recipes are integrated into the summer menu, with dishes like Thukpa and Hyderabadi Paneer showcasing the diverse food culture of India. This not only enhances the dining experience but also connects diners with local food culture.  

The Essence of Summer 

At Tikitii Beachfront Restaurant in Morjim, Goa, Chef Harshal Ghosalkar emphasizes the freshness and lightness of summer flavours. "We prioritize freshness and lightness when crafting summer flavours," he explains. Seasonal produce like watermelon and avocado are key ingredients in creating vibrant and refreshing dishes that complement the warm weather. Themes like tropical or Mediterranean cuisine add an extra layer of summer vibes to the menu, making it season special and reflecting different flavours, textures, and creativity.  

Chef Ghosalkar also integrates local recipes and ingredients into the summer menu, enhancing the dining experience by connecting diners with the region's food culture. For example, the Goan Ghonta sansav, a traditional dish, is given a modern twist to celebrate local flavours. Sharing the history and cultural significance of these dishes deepens diners' understanding and appreciation, offering a unique culinary journey that highlights the richness of local food culture. 

Innovative Flavours and Trendy Twists 

Sahil Arya, Co-Founder and Director at Fat Tiger, observes that chefs get particularly creative in the summer. "Chefs are making fruits and veggies the stars of the dish instead of just sides," he says. Grilling fruits and incorporating veggies into desserts or drinks are examples of this creativity. Seasonal favourites like juicy berries and flavourful tomatoes are used to experiment with new flavours and combinations. At Fat Tiger, Boba Coffee, a unique drink with boba pearls, is a standout offering that exemplifies their innovative approach. 

For restaurant owners, balancing trendy summer ingredients with classic recipes is key to appealing to a broad audience. At Fat Tiger, they blend modern elements with beloved traditional dishes, ensuring their menu resonates with both the modern crowd and those who love traditional flavours. Signature items like a variety of momos, jalapeno burgers, and boba tea and coffee set the tone for their quick-service restaurant brand, making dining out in the summer exciting and delicious. 

Elevating Simple Dishes with Quality Ingredients

Gaurav Anand, Culinary Director at Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn Bengaluru Embassy Manyata Business Park, highlights the explosion of juicy sweetness and vibrant colours during the summer. "Savoury dishes can be enhanced with salty cheeses, cured meats, or the bright acidity of citrus or vinegar," he notes. By utilizing ingredients at their peak, he lets their natural flavours burst onto the plate. Techniques like grilling, roasting, or incorporating a light vinaigrette allow the quality of the ingredients to come out better. 

Anand emphasizes the use of hyperlocal ingredients to add authenticity and depth of flavour to his dishes. Regional specialties like Pacchi Pulusu, a raw vegetable broth from Andhra Pradesh, are featured at their Neo Kitchen, telling a story on the plate. Hyper-local ingredients at their peak during summer offer a burst of flavour that commercially available produce cannot match, enabling the creation of dishes that truly celebrate the vibrancy of the season. 

Conscious and Compassionate Summer Dining 

At Justbe by Nidhi Nahata, freshness is paramount in their summer menu. "Our focus is on using locally sourced seasonal produce to ensure top-notch quality," says Nahata. Water-rich fruits and vegetables like mangoes, watermelons, musk melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers are central to their dishes. While drawing inspiration from various cuisines, they remain true to showcasing the vibrant flavours of the season with a unique whole food and plant-based twist.  

The chefs at Justbe ensure harmonious pairings through meticulous attention to flavour profiles and textures. For example, their Apple & Pear salad featuring ice-apple and in-house vegan burrata was a stellar hit, showcasing their dedication to balanced flavour pairings. Alongside their whole food plant-based menu, they offer refreshing options like Smoked Peanut Curd Buttermilk and Raw Mango Mojito made with jaggery instead of sugar. Maintaining a balance between flavours and authenticity is crucial, reflecting their commitment to creating conscious and compassionate meals.