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As a Humanities student, it was hard to ignore the concept of deconstruction. From history to literature, you had to break everything down to extract deeper meaning out of it. When I graduated, I thought I would have seen the last of it – that is, until it resurfaced, all of a sudden, in a restaurant, on my plate. A culinary technique that emerged in kitchens of the world over around the late 90s, ‘deconstruction’ is basically all the elements of a dish presented individually – their forms changed, but original flavours intact, giving the diner an insight into the composition of his favourite food. Although still in its nascent stage, the idea is now slowly but surely making headway in Pune.
Resto-lounge Adda, for instance, offers ‘papad churi’, which is a very simplistic deconstruction of the popular Indian appetizer, the masala papad. So, you get a heap of mini-papads accompanied by a bowl of spices that include chopped onions, tomatoes, and lots of crisp sev, to be scooped up in preferred quantities with the savoury discs. It would have been interesting if they had dismantled the papad further, perhaps by tinkering around with urad flour and a few desi masalas instead of serving it in its finished form.
The K Factory does a more sophisticated rendition of the idea – here; you get a soft, firm hunk of cream cheese served with dollops of blueberry coulis on the side and butter crumble (the crust in powder form). The plating is as beautiful as the taste, and just as is the traditional version, the ingredients – even after being separated – play off one another in subtle harmony.
Zamus Place has been putting together a gorgeous ‘deconstructed ham and cheese sandwich’ for years, way before the idea became mainstream. Thick slices of juicy, smoky ham, tiny cheddar cheese cubes, fresh lettuce leaves, tomatoes and crunchy, deep-fried croutons are tossed together in a basic seasoning with hints of garlic sauce to make a rich, flavourful salad with a runny fried egg on top – absolutely scrumptious.
Finally, The Deccan Epicure whips a lovely deconstructed apple pie which plates together soft, wafer-thin red apple slices baked with dry caramel, an apple juice syrup, a short crust puff pastry that acts as the base, some oat crumble, and a blob of velvety homemade French vanilla ice cream.