I want to make a case for cranberries. To consider America’s original superfood as a replacement for kismis (raisins). Both wrinkled morsels—from ruddy red to a spectrum of brown to black—they suddenly seemed interchangeable on a rainy Saturday afternoon when Social (of Impresario Handmade Restaurants) stuffed them in the mushy fillings of kachoris and samosas. Chef Shamsul Wahid, group executive chef at Impresario, which also owns the Smokehouse Deli chain, waved a magic wand and dropped the most delectable breakfast bombshell—cranberry in never-before-seen avatars. Think dal and cranberry kachoris with fenugreek chutney; cranberry moongode vade with mint chutney; cranberry and cashew samosa chaat; keema pao paired with cranberry garlic chutney and cranberry relish; and the pulled mutton nihari with cranberry baos.
India is not suitable for growing these swollen ruby-like berries, with the US, Canada and Chile accounting for almost all of the production. But India is a top importer, with shipments from the US worth $2.44 million in 2020-21 (April to November) more than the previous year. While most of us first learnt of the fruit as the sherry-coloured sauce that is de-rigueur on a Thanksgiving table, gourmands in India have been adding their desi twist to the berries, in chutneys to pickles, expertly harnessing its tannins for some delectable tartness. But the Social menu this time deftly expands the repertoire for the Indian palate. “The chaturmas or the four months of monsoon have inspired playfulness and creativity in the larger artistic tradition, including in food. The idea of this menu, ‘Garam Nashta, Rimjhim Bochar with US Cranberries’, is to celebrate this playfulness even as we incorporate a new and versatile ingredient—cranberries—into traditional nashtas (snacks),” says Anoothi Vishal, the food historian and author who curated the limited-edition, all-day breakfast menu in collaboration with US Cranberries. It will be available in 10 Social outposts across the country till August 15.