Discover the Flavours of Science.

Blog 2 - Food, with a twist of science

 

Just one word – food – has the power to make us drool. And more than anything else, good food is good mood. It is no longer only a means of sustenance; it is a feeling. It relieves us of our stress, uplifts our gloomy mood, and gives us the energy to take on the world. Food, in short, is fresh, wholesome happiness, served with a side of science.

Yes, you read that right. Science. No dish can be created without science doing its magic. Be it the formation of curd or making of honey, the cooking process would be incomplete without science.

Come, let’s dive deep into the role of science in churning out the most flavoursome and scrumptious dishes you can dig in to.

  1. Fresh-Baked Cookies or The Maillard Reaction?

Did you know the perfectly baked batch of cookies you love owes it’s awesome flavour, aroma, and colour to the Maillard Reaction? When the amino acids and the reducing sugar react in the presence of heat (140°C to 165°C), the food in the oven or stove releases flavours and turns it brown. If the protein concentration is higher (like in Meats), the Maillard reaction will bring out more flavours and if the sugar concentration is higher (like in Cakes), it will produce a lovely aroma. So, right from grilled fish with golden-brown fries to the colour of coffee and maple syrup, you’ll find Maillard Reaction play the MasterChef (without an apron or a cap.)

 

  1. Mouth-Watering Tikkas or The Process of Osmosis?

Osmosis is not only a biological concept that you must learn for your exams or perform on raisins in labs. It is much more than that. Osmosis, simply, is the movement of water molecules to a higher concentration level through a selectively permeable membrane. The juicy steaks and the spicy chicken tikka, for example, gets its rich flavours and textures from osmosis. Therefore, when you marinate the chicken, the water from the chicken’s muscle cells flows out into the marinate due to osmosis and evaporates in the heat. And, in turn, spices and salts permeate into the meat to make it tasteful and succulent.

 

  1. Creamy Mayo or Simple Emulsions?

Emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that cannot be mixed, like oil and water. They need an emulsifying agent to unite them into a seamless blend. Mayonnaise, for example, uses egg yolk to uniformly dispense the oil in water. Homogenised milk and butter uses casein (i.e. milk protein) as an emulsifying agent to chemically bond the two immiscible liquids. Thus, mixing them at the right speed with perfect measurements will create an emulsion that is not only smooth but fantastic to taste.

 

Who would have thought, the amazing dishes that we gobble down taste so good, just because of science? Food is, therefore, much more than following a simple recipe or procuring the best ingredients. It requires a lot of chemistry, biology, and physics.

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