The year 2019 has been exciting in the Indian culinary space. It was the year when not only newer and more relevant culinary trends came into mainstream but also when trends that had been building up for past few years saw fruition. 2020 promises to be even more exciting. With young blood bringing in new ideas and the theatre of food getting bigger than ever, we expect the Indian dining scene to scale greater heights than ever before (and we are not only talking sky-dining!).
While there are many interesting things happening in the food space, the most encouraging trends include sustainability-driven practices across commercial and the domestic dining spaces. India seems to be slowly yet steadily returning to its native ways of eating and the focus on revival of regional cuisines cannot be overlooked. Young foodpreneurs, chefs, and restaurateurs meanwhile are already working together to bring in a better and more sustainable food culture in the country.
Here is a look at what is expected to rule our kitchens, restaurants, and dining tables in 2020 — and beyond:
RETURN TO ROOTS & INDIAN FOOD BEING THE NEW COOL
Indian food is having its moment — and it will continue to grow in the coming years. Call it Fusion Indian, Progressive Indian, Modern Indian or what you will but if there is anything that is the new cool it is local food — albeit in a new avatar. The combinations coming out of modern kitchens are a far cry from the oily gravies we have always associated Indian restaurant food with. The new age Indian food on the menu is familiar and yet novel — imagine Bengali kasundi on Punjabi fish tikka, Malabar prawns stuffed in paratha, or ghee roast tucked inside a bao.
In the sea of multi-cuisine restaurants that have ruled the market until now, the allure of specialized local cuisines is catching up fast. As a result more and more regional cuisines are coming out of home kitchens into the mainstream. While legendary places like Karavali in Bangalore, Grand in Cochin and Dumpukht in Delhi had always brought regional food outside of its home turf, newer and smarter renditions of regional flavours are now getting popular — all thanks to contemporary restaurants like Masque, The Bombay Canteen, Kappa Chakka Kandhari and Oota Bangalore, which are working with native cuisines and making them aspirational for the current generation.
“With the demand for all things indigenous, we can expect desi flavours percolating down to everything — from small plates to cocktails to even desserts,” informs food writer and chronicler, Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal who works closely with the industry every year to study upcoming trends. Rushina also feels that micro cuisines and hyper local cuisines, which have not yet been seen in mainstream dining, will soon become more popular in the coming year. “Thanks to the championing from celebrity chefs, restaurants and Instagram influencers, she says, all things Indian are now ‘cool’.”
It is not only the commercial restaurants that are working with regional cuisine though. With food media being stronger than ever before, YouTube, Instagram and Tasty at our fingertips and a new breed of home chefs and cooks, regional food is getting popular inside our home too. Himachali pop-ups in Mumbai, Bengali feasts in Delhi, Anglo Indian delicacies in Bangalore, and Punjabi meals in Pune are no longer unheard of and home cooks are looking beyond their personal traditional recipes.
CELEBRATION OF SUSTAINABLE, ARTISANAL AND LOCAL
If Indian food is going places, sustainability is coming home. Gone are the days when ‘sustainable food’ was just a fashionable term used in international seminars or artisanal products were reserved for a niche market. The past few years have seen an unprecedented focus on food sustainability, clean eating, and zero waste. And today, not only the food industry, but the diner also has woken up to the reality of climate change, altered crop cycles, and the importance of making informed decisions. Awareness of what is good for you and the environment is driving food choices at home and restaurants.
“Mindfulness towards individual health and collective environment and the search for healthier and fresher solutions is driving a whole new paradigm of food consumption in India,” informs Rushina, whose current report points at a definite shift towards sustainable food at all levels. From locally sourced and developed artisanal and organic chocolates to consciously grown and processed coffee, to homemade fresh and artisanal snacks, the country is slowly yet steadily embracing food that is good for the earth and its people.
As a result, 2020 will see people across demographics moving towards local produce, sustainable cooking practices, and native Indian cuisines. With the demand raising so, the production capabilities are growing and prices are no longer prohibitive either. In the end it is helping everyone. “In the coming year, we expect a lot of focus on the raw material,” asserts food writer and journalist Ruth Dsouza Prabhu, who also feels that regional seeds and grains will see a greater traction in the coming year as will home and balcony grown ingredients. “A renewed understanding of the benefits of these practices has sparked an interest in our native ingredients,” adds Ruth. And it is all set to grow in 2020.