Gauging the Evolving Market

By Sharmila Chand

Bowl meals and comfort food took centre stage among the food trends in the Indian food service industry, during 2017.  2018 is also expected to unfold lot of interesting concepts for discerning diners, across the Indian food service industry. Lots of Chefs are of the opinion that grandmothers’ recipes will continue to rock during 2018, and the focus will be a lot more on healthy culinary fare.

Also, cooking will be more of an art with Chefs making utmost efforts towards impeccable presentations. How about having micro greens and edible flowers blossom in their dishes? How about having unheard ingredients creating flavour infusions in simple, non fussy preparations? Yes, they are expected to emerge as trends of 2018, in the Indian food service industry.

Here some well-known Chefs share their take on ‘Food Trends for 2018’, in the context of the Indian food & beverage industry in general and in the context of the Indian food service industry in particular

Some Happening Trends

According to Nikhil Rastogi, Executive Chef, Eros Hotel New Delhi, Nehru Place,”There is the trend to primarily focus on one dish rather than on a whole gamut of dishes. This has always been there in Delhi or in fact in India where an eatery just concentrates on perfecting one dish rather than presenting varied selections. Dishes like biryanis, momos, pizzas, dosas have a recall value from outlets which are famous for them, where they maintain quality consistency.” 

“Hopefully, regional Indian food would gain its glory back in 2018. People are now more inclined towards the diversity of Indian ingredients. Customers are exploring new dishes from south India, Goa, North-East and even lesser known ethnic Indian food. Ice-cream parlours, food trucks and cloud kitchens are also trending in the Indian food service industry,” asserted Padmanabhan Anand, Corporate Executive Chef, Group MRG Hospitality, Bengaluru.

“It is high time we need to make our young crowd fall in love with Indian cuisines again. We need to understand their palates and design accordingly,” Padmanabhan pointed out.  

“There has been a huge demand and growing interest towards â��healthy food, in the Indian food & beverage industry. For the same reason, awareness on sustainable & organic food and their production has increased over the years. People are trying to eat healthy, going for farm-to-table lunches, growing their own garden herbs, buying as much organic food as they can afford and consciously avoiding junk food as much as possible. Hence, the biggest food trend of 2018 in India will continue to be about eating healthy,” observed Chef Sreenivasan G, Executive Chef, Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport.

 “Definitely, there has been a remarkable switch to the vegetarian food or more so towards the vegan food. The change in the global opinion about the food has a lot to do with it. Organic produce has come in and the introduction of soya and its products have given a lot of different options to the Chefs and the guests,” he added further.

“Dessert section has expanded quite a bit. These tiny adorable mini feasts have become the main attraction in the recent times & sky is the limit when it comes to innovation in desserts. The live dessert counters have risen in popularity in the recent times,” observed   Sreenivasan while talking about the happening food trends in India.

“However when it comes to hardcore sweet products, still nothing beats the local Indian desserts such as jalebi, malpua, seasonal halwas and rasmalai. But on the other hand, chocolate fondues, crepe bar, gelato bar (Teppanyaki style) and flambés are also catching the eye of the roving customers. The popularity of these desserts would evolve more this year,” he explained.

“Old world recipes will make their way back into kitchens. Blame it to the rise of lifestyle diseases or our love for everything traditional, but healthy seeds like char magaz, chironji, oats, quinoa will be used in cakes, cookies, muffins and crackers extensively this year. So local ingredients will play a major role in our daily diet during 2018,” affirmed Sreenivasan.

“More consumers in India are opting for a plant-based diet. Vertical indoor farming is bringing more farms closer to where people live, reducing expense and environmental impact in the process,” he conveyed. 

­While discussing the food trends which would pervade through the Indian food & beverage industry in the near future, Lokesh Jarodia, Executive Sous Chef, Novotel Imagica Khopoli, said, “The most influential trend that we have come across lately in the Indian food & beverage industry is incorporating a healthy aspect in food. Super food like ragi, quinoa, chia seeds, etc. are now greatly in demand. There is also a surge towards going back to the roots and deriving diverse recipes from varied cultural heritages.” 

“Keeping the present environmental conditions in mind, a lot of hotels and restaurants including us at Novotel Imagica Khopoli are making a sincere effort to maintain a menu, while incorporating mainly local produce,” he pointed out further.

Lokesh believed the popularity of authentic Indian food and comfort food would continue.

“According to me, plant-based food or protein will be trending big this year, across the Indian food & beverage industry. Lots of people are becoming vegan, to improvise the eating habits and to be more fit. Indian and South-east Asian countries’ street food are being fused to make Indian food more palatable for Americans.  Unique flavours based on fermented food, like Umami, is in trend now,” aired Prasad Metrani, Executive Chef, Fairmont Jaipur.

“Restaurants emphasising on the local produce in their menu will be in trend during 2018. Local documented recipes of the old days are going to be more in demand as people are interested to learn more and more about the lost recipes and special home recipes. Farmer’s market and organic vegetable stores are the trend as more and more people are turning health conscious,” averred Prasad.

“Healthier ingredients like avocados, fresh organic vegetables, grains like quinoa, jowar, bajra, red millets are gaining more importance in the Indian food industry.  This helps to develop farm to fork menus. Comfort food is also in high demand,” added Prasad. 

“According to me, exciting healthy food with hyper-local ingredients and twists, not specific to cuisines, should be the mood this year, in the Indian food service industry,” projected Sidharth Sharma, Consulting Chef at Saints N Sinners, Gurugram, Delhi-NCR.

 “The primary food trend in the Indian food service industry during 2018 would clearly be smaller portions and healthy eating. This would mean more variety in offerings, having food with high fibre and nutrition. The emphasis would be more over quality than quantity,” pointed out Suresh Thampy, Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Mumbai International Airport.

Emerging and Way Out

“Molecular gastronomy, in my view, will be on its way out as it has been distorted in the name of fusion and has not found many takers in a market where ‘value for money’ is high on priority,” affirmed Nikhil.

“This year might see a lot of unheard ingredients making a splash in the market and providing a new food for thought,” he predicted.

 “Innovation with our Indian food should be the in trend for 2018, and molecular gastronomy, Indian fusion food would lose currency,” maintained Padmanabhan.

 “Regional food, street food inspired dishes, uncommon green herbs & spices, healthy & indulgent food, and drinks with exotic ingredients are among the emerging trends, whereas fried food, preserved food, too sweet desserts, packed juices have suffered setbacks in popularity in the Indian food & beverage market,” articulated Sreenivasan. 

­­ “Freak shakes, and glitter coffees have suffered decline in popularity whereas there is rise in demand for Japanese food, Peruvian cuisine, and meals in a bowl,” Lokesh observed.

 “Single-bowl dishes, leaves and whole plants, super food, frequent quick bites are in. Elaborate dining; fusion of dishes are out,” expressed Sidharth.

“Fresh and organic produce will be the trend this year. Super food like berries, avocados, quinoa, millets, etc. will gain more market acceptance. At the same time, use of processed food would be minimised and artificial seasonings and colours, heavy garnishing, molecular gastronomy will be on their way out,” Suresh inferred.

Special Focus Areas 

Nikhil said that if he was told to name one thing that he would focus on specially in 2018, then it had to be flavours. “Fancy buffet ware, jazzy glassware, and funky ambience can only get you a guest for the first time, but it is the flavours which can turn her/him into a regular patron,” opined the Chef.

“Maximum extraction of natural flavours from the ingredients will be my key focus this year through a lot of stress on correct methods of cooking and extensive training down the line,” he expressed.

“For example, with our recent hugely successful food promotion by the name of ‘Taseer-e- Hararat’, we tried to maximise the flavours of the commonly used ingredients in unusual preparations,” pointed out the seasoned culinary expert.

“Usage of garlic in a dessert and pista as a base for gravy are some of the examples wherein we actually accentuated the behavioural tendency of an ingredient and then used it to create new flavours rather than using them in an ordinary common dish,” Nikhil explained.

Padmanabhan said that in 2018 he would focus more on Indian cuisines.

Sreenivasan said that presentation of food would have his special focus during 2018. “The food trends are always evolving. Great food is one thing, but presentation of the same is the key. How food is served to guests is extremely important and we at Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport are using very creative dishes and utensils.  For instance, porcelain spoons, mini cast iron skillets, shot glasses, miniature cups and even forks help with unique food appearances,” he pointed out.

 “This year, I am mainly focusing on innovative solutions to make environmentally sustainable food; reducing wastage and incorporating healthier alternatives in food,” Lokesh asserted.

“During 2018, we have decided to focus specially on introducing a more diverse menu at our outlets that caters to all preferences. We have also decided to use more of seasonal and local produce for our international cuisines, thus presenting the known global dishes with a desi twist. To examine food waste with a creative eye, tracking wastage, composting waste food and use it as fodder for our hotel garden, sourcing local and finest quality produce are some of our focal areas during 2018,” elaborated Prasad.

“One of my key focus areas during 2018 would be to revive age-old recipes, which have been lost in due course of time. We would like the old recipes to get back to mainstream menus and be offered to our guests,” Suresh informed.

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