Friday, October 4, 2013 - 17:31

Top chefs will be demonstrating innovative dishes using the African super-fruit baobab at the Eden Project from Tuesday October 8.

The culinary creatives have taken up the “baobab challenge” to craft dishes that inspire people to cook with the fruit, which works in both sweet and savoury dishes.

The event runs until Sunday October 13 and will feature talks and demonstrations from experts including former Great British Bake-Off contestant Urvashi Roe and Rosby Mthinda, who works with baobab growers in Malawi.

On October 8, Sanjay Kumar, senior sous chef at Newquay’s Headland Hotel, will be demonstrating his recipe for baobab ganoush, an excellent accompaniment for fish dishes made with aubergine, shallots, chilli, garlic, coriander and, of course, baobab.

On October 9 and 10, eccentric ice-cream artist Charlie Harry Francis will be returning to Eden to demonstrate the recipes he has created using baobab, including the baobab banana biscuit sandwich, the chocolate strawberry baobab brownie and the baobab and mango meringue pie.

Urvashi Roe will be demonstrating how she combines baobab jam, yoghurt and granola into a delicious breakfast pastry on October 11, 12 and 13. She will also be showing visitors how to make baked ricotta with baobab blueberries. Also featuring on these dates will be renowned chocolatier Aneesh Popat.

All the chef demonstrations will be taking place under cover in Eden’s arena. Rosby Mthinda will be working with Eden’s narrators in the Rainforest Biome to talk to visitors about baobab harvesting and the benefits for African farmers brought about by increased trade in the fruit.

Baobab is supplied as a fruit powder and its flavour can be described as a blend of melon and pineapple. Gram for gram, it has six times more vitamin C than an orange and more calcium than a glass of milk. Baobab also benefits from having three times more iron than red meat, six times as much potassium than in bananas and more than three times as much antioxidants than blueberries.

Tracey Smith, Eden’s Commercial Projects and Relationship Manager, said: “We’re really excited to have such a great selection of chefs and experts demonstrating the fruits of their labour after being given the ‘baobab challenge’.

“We’re also very pleased that Rosby Mthinda will be visiting from Malawi to share her knowledge with our visitors and to show her how baobab is being used in the UK. The increased trade in this remarkable fruit is making a massive difference to people in Malawi, as well as providing an unusual and healthy ingredient for cooks in this country.”

The event is the final part of Eden’s Harvest Season, which has seen the project celebrating good food and drink with the help of celebrity chefs.

Also known as the “upside down tree”, baobab is pollinated by bats and produces large green or brownish baobab fruits. A simple process to obtain the powdery fruit pulp involves collecting the fruit by hand, cracking open the hard shells and then milling and separating into a coarse and fine powder.

The Eden Project is championing the growth of the superfruit in the UK, and working with PhytoTrade Africa - a trade association that helps support rural harvesters and producers across southern Africa to ensure baobab is sustainably harvested. In the Eden Project’s Rainforest biome, visitors will find a baobab tree growing and can stay refreshed at the Baobab Bar.

Eden has also partnered with Cornish ice cream maker, Roskillys, to create a coconut and baobab ice cream. Ice-lollies and a special range of chocolate flavoured with baobab have also been introduced.