Everybody and their aunty seem to be self proclaimed experts predicting food trends for 2017….. So here’s my take.
A few years ago, I mentioned that bakeries and patisseries would be mushrooming all over the country – and they have. Firstly as Indians we love to snack. Secondly we don’t bake bread and cakes on a regular basis at home so we have to go out and buy them and thirdly they are vegetarian, so no restrictions there. This trend continues with the emergence of tons of home bakers – young girls who have been on the internet and experimented with recipes and taste buds to produce often excellent results. Then there are the young girls with well to do parents, who have done short courses at the Cordon Bleu cookery schools abroad. Armed with a little knowledge and a huge amount of confidence, mainly in the macaron department, they have opened studios and started classes and cafes in cities back home. In a few short years many are success stories already.
Secondly restaurants! This trend has definitely moved towards a new longing based on emotion and memory, to eat nostalgic Indian dishes, whether it’s something your mother makes or street food. So we are now paying an arm and a leg for vada pav and thepla in upmarket restaurants. Happy to note that smart restaurants serving regional Indian cuisines both in their home cities and others, are also doing extremely well. Maratha Samrat in Pune, Rustom’s in Delhi and Bombay Canteen in Mumbai. Others like Chutneys in Hyderabad are successful chains. About time too! Why should McDonalds and KFC rule the roost in a country where fast food probably originated.
Thirdly and more significantly are exotic ingredients. This is definitely a food trend worth talking about. Whether it is truffle oil, harissa sauce or hummus, people from all walks of life in urban metros are hungry for something new even if it is slightly more expensive than their regular fare. People are no longer satisfied with Kashmiri walnuts- they must buy Californian ones in neat well packaged pouches. Which brings me to packaging. This is another area which has hugely changed what we buy. We are no longer happy with something thrown in a bag by a man with dirty hands and sealed with a stapler. Anything in a re-sealable packet and easy to squeeze tube or plastic squeezy bottle is more attractive to us than the old fashioned ‘weigh and pack’ method.
Health is another concern. Although the market is not sizeable yet, it is growing by leaps and bounds as we find with our markets throughout the country which are becoming bigger and bigger. . Our basic food patterns – dal bhaath, roti, shaak – has not changed but we are happy to explore multigrain atta, organically grown pulses and pesticide free vegetables. Because of the growth of diabetes as a real disease, we want anything which says ‘sugar free’.
These are not fads. These are real trends and here to stay.