A new kind of sugar fix
A high demand for gluten-free desserts has brought in inventive options for clean eaters and coeliacs
Gluten-free has been a buzzword in healthy eating circles for the past couple of years. A minuscule percentage of people may suffer from coeliac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. However, an increasing number of people are opting for a gluten-free lifestyle though they may not be medically gluten intolerant. “I began experimenting with gluten-free desserts because there was a demand for it," says Husna Jumani, pastry chef at The Clearing House in Mumbai. Jumani ran a month-long Gluten-Free Dessert Pop-Up earlier this year at the restaurant and also conducted a gluten-free baking masterclass.
Here’s where to find a gluten-free sugar fix in your city.
THE CLEARING HOUSE, Mumbai
The Clearing House Gluten-free Dessert Pop-Up featured nine gluten-free desserts like 70% Chocolate Namelaka (creamy ganache with chocolate sorbet and jaggery caramel), Coffee Vacherin (hazelnut meringue with Kahlua mousse), and Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée Cheesecake. Given the favourable response, many of the desserts now feature on the regular menu. “As I kept exploring recipes, I realized that alternative flours and nuts give much more flavour and texture to a dessert. As a chef, that excites me and opens up a new range of possibilities," says Jumani. For instance, she uses a mixture of sorghum, rice, and tapioca flours for the passion fruit cheesecake base, giving the dessert an unexpected nuttiness and texture.
₹550 for the Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée cheesecake. The Clearing House, 13/15 Calicut Street, Ballard Estate, Mumbai.
TOAST & TONIC, Bengaluru
At Toast & Tonic, chef-partner Manu Chandra has come up with a rather decadent Raagi Rava & Jaggery Brownie. Chandra has been working with millets for a while and was inspired to create this dessert after a visit to Mandya, Karnataka. “Sitting on the floor in a small hut in Mandya district not far from Srirangapatna, I was served a dish of ragi rava, jaggery and white butter along with filter coffee. It was the most fudge-like confection I had eaten and I couldn’t believe it was from ragi at all," he says. After several trials with ragi rava and jaggery from Mandya, and single-estate cocoa powder from Mason & Co., Toast & Tonic’s “brownie" took shape. It is served with pickled strawberries, strawberry gel, and mint and coconut milk sorbet, making it not just gluten-free but vegan as well.
₹295. Toast & Tonic, 14/1 Wood Street, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru.
FLURYS BAKERY, Kolkata
The venerable Flurys is a Kolkata institution with its elegant tearoom, boozy rum balls, and old-school pastries. But this 90-year-old grande dame is adapting to changing tastes and trends. Now there are several gluten-free options on the menu, including customized cakes and an airy chocolate and Kahlua mousse. But what takes the cake is their Fresh Fruit Pavlova. Its crunchy meringue shell is filled with freshly whipped cream and seasonal fruits. A drizzle of caramel sauce gives it additional depth of flavours.
₹150 for the Fresh Fruit Pavlova. Flurys, 18A Park Street, Kolkata.
BOGANVILA PATISSERIE, Chennai
Black Forest—just the name evokes nostalgia and memories of 1980s birthday parties. This popular pastry fell out of favour at the turn of the millennium. Now, Boganvila Patisserie in Chennai has come up with a gluten-free version. “We use almond flour, eggs, and melted couverture chocolate to make the pastry sponge. The sponge layers are then alternated with chocolate pastry cream, dark cherry filling and whipped cream to make our gluten-free Black Forest pastry," says chef Suzie from Boganvila.
₹150 for a slice of the Black Forest pastry. Boganvila Patisserie, No.6 Radhamohan Street, Velachery, Chennai.
ANDAZ DELHI, Delhi
At AnnaMaya, the all-day dining restaurant at Andaz Delhi, pastry chef Gordon Galea offers a rotating menu of desserts, including several gluten-free options. One popular dessert is the rather healthy-sounding Date and Oatmeal Bar. Galea cooks the dates in orange juice and mixes them with rolled oats, chopped pecans, orange zest and a dash of honey to make this delectable dessert bar.
₹450 for one Date and Oatmeal Bar. Andaz Delhi, Aerocity, Delhi.