Ingredient Spotlight: Matcha
Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea leaves that is dissolved in hot water to make tea, or to use as a flavouring to food. It isn’t just a millennial fad, but an age-old drink that dates back nearly a thousand years to when the Tang Dynasty steamed and dried their tea leaves and shaped them into bricks so they could be easily transported for trade. The bricks were roasted and pulverized, which created matcha powder. Today, in some parts of the world, matcha is connected with a number of ceremonial rituals, and in others, it’s being experimented with in kitchens to push the boundaries of traditional cuisines and familiar flavours.
I’ve noticed a number of matcha-related food items go viral on the internet over the last couple of years, which made me inquisitive to find out what the matcha scene is like in our city. While our desi McDonalds may not be making a super cool looking Matcha McFlurry, chefs in Mumbai have been up to some fun in their own kitchens, gently introducing matcha to the city, one small ste(e)p at a time.
Matcha Cotton Cheesecake – Shimon’s Kitchen
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You must have seen videos and pictures of the gloriously fluffy Japanese cheesecakes doing the rounds online. These Japanese cheesecakes jiggle at the slightest nudge. The only places I know that are currently making these in Mumbai are Daniel Patisserie, and Shimon’s Kitchen. Shimon’s Kitchen is a home-based delivery kitchen specializing in East Indian food with Asian influences. They bake these Japanese cheesecakes at home, and make two varieties – an original cheesecake, and a matcha cheesecake. Though a lot of restaurants are incorporating matcha flavoured ice cream to their dessert menus, Shimon’s matcha flavoured Japanese cheesecake is as authentic as they get.
Matcha Crepes – Harajuku
Harajuku is a new, kawaii looking eatery in Bandra that has a simple menu of very complex Japanese dishes. They serve crepes, dorayaki (pancakes) and taiyaki (fish shaped waffles). Their menu heavily features matcha, and they’ve created it keeping Indian palates that are unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine in mind. They have a mild matcha ice cream that they use in their dishes. Their Matcha Crepe is loaded with vanilla cake crumble, a strawberry compote, oreos, dark chocolate syrup, whipped cream and matcha ice cream. The strong bitterness of matcha is balanced out by all the other sweet elements in the crepe. It’s the perfect dish to try if you’ve never had match before. They also do a simple Matcha Affogato, which is a scoop of vanilla ice cream immersed in hot matcha tea.
Green Tea Cream – Starbucks
This is probably one of the first matcha flavoured things you should try if you’re not familiar with the taste of matcha. Matcha powder is robust and carries an overpowering flavour and texture. Starbucks makes a latte out of traditional matcha tea and blends the powder with milk. It’s topped off with sweet whipped cream, and what you get is a drink that looks like a smoothie. The matcha flavour in this is strong, too, and doesn’t get diluted, but the milk and whipped cream help soften the matcha bitterness.
Matcha and White Chocolate Mocha – Koinonia Coffee Roasters
KC roasters brings creaminess to the table with their White Chocolate Mocha. Though they do a Matcha Latte as well, this mocha tastes like a luxurious upgrade. Truly good quality white chocolate swirls with green matcha to give both your eyes and tastebuds a treat. Their matcha latte and mocha is available at their small, hip coffee shop in Bandra, and now also at BKC’s Hello Guppy, as a new addition to their all-day dining menu.
A number of restaurants have matcha ice creams in their dessert menu, so you can also check out Burma Burma, Myxx, Kofuku, Origami Japanese and Korean Restaurant and Yuuka at The St. Regis for more matcha goodness. It’s taken me a while to acquire a taste for matcha, but now that I’m converted over to the green side, there’s no looking back. Matcha madness is still to take over Mumbai the way it seems to have taken over Los Angeles, New York and London where matcha has been incorporated in savoury food too, but I’m looking forward to more and more innovation bursting out of Mumbai’s kitchens as we globalize our palates.