Martha Kohlhagen, who settled down in Bangalore and runs a gourmet enterprise. She makes preserves, sauces, and desserts

Chicken breast stuffed with apple and onion relish, lemon tarts made with lemon curd, pannacotta vanilla cream dessert using caramel sauce, fresh vegetable salad with orange vinaigrette and chicken and pesto pastry. Such delicious food was prepared at Foodhall in 1 M.G. Road recently by Martha Kohlhagen with Chef Lynn Clemente, from Vivanta by Taj Whitefield. They also shared insights on what goes into preparing a good continental meal.

Martha, from Colorado in the United States, made Bangalore her home six years ago. “I first came to the city with an IT firm,” says Martha. But her interest in food led her to start her own company, Martha’s Preserves, in the city, which offers gourmet preserves, sauces, and desserts.

With continental restaurants mushrooming at every corner of the city and shows like MasterChef becoming increasingly popular, the interest in continental cuisine has been growing.

“There’s a huge market and interest in continental food. It’s a question of how you go about it. Where do you get ingredients? You have to pay attention to and look for what products are available in the market,” says Martha, who launched Martha’s Preserves in December last year.

“I have taken traditional recipes from the US and Europe and blended Indian flavours within them. My most popular products are my pineapple chilli jams, pomegranate orange marmalades, chocolate and pesto sauce. I have introduced French caramel sauce and fig and raisin jam. All of my products are an infusion of flavours of different cuisines.”

All the products of Martha’s Preserves are a 100 per cent natural, with no preservatives. “And it’s good, good food. I don’t compromise on the quality of my products. Each bottle is full of fruit and vegetables” adds Martha.

Gourmet food to her is about using the best ingredients to bring out the best flavours. “There is a difference between eating and really enjoying food. Gourmet food is about enjoying what you eat and saying ‘wow, that’s really good!’ It goes back to the quality and care in making the product.”

Martha speaks of what constitutes continental cuisine, and says depending on how you prepare it, there is something for vegetarians in it too. “It’s primarily preparations of meat and vegetable. If you are a vegetarian, you can expand on the vegetarian part — it’s a good balance of various types of food in one meal. The main course must be as good as the accompaniments and vice-versa. You can stuff the same things in a zucchini as you do in a chicken and it tastes equally good. All my products are vegetarian. But the lemon curd does have egg.”

Martha’s facebook page, Martha’s Preserves, also has recipes, which suggest ways in which you could use her products. You could also visit her website www.marthasfoods.com.