After struggling for two years owing to the pandemic, 2022 saw a major boom in the Indian culinary scene and we’re here for it. We saw a massive rise in the number of new restaurants across the country. And with the travel industry witnessing an upswing, international chefs have been flown down to collaborate with Indian chefs for limited menus and pop-ups. While butter boards became the major Instagram trend in 2022, there weren’t too many recipes or inventions that popped up at home or through social media as people wanted to step out of closed doors and head to various places to get the physical dining experience.
Regional cuisine, local ingredients and indigenous produce, ingredient-forward menus and plant-based diets became big in 2022 and as per culinary experts, it will remain to be big in 2023 too. Besides these, 8 chefs and restaurateurs predict the other food trends this year.
1. Chef Hussain Shahzad, Executive Chef at The Bombay Canteen and O Pedro
Vegetables Will Become The Hero
“From pumpkin, to carrots and greens to root vegetables – expect to see a lot more dishes where vegetables are the star on the plate. Along with seasonality which will be key, vegetable-focussed dishes is what I foresee as a trend. People will move away from using a mix of different vegetables in a dish and instead use a single vegetable and make it the star of the dish. Applying techniques and cooking methods that would help in extraction of maximum flavour of that particular vegetable is what I see happening a lot more this year. Take for example the Charred Carrots from the winter menu at The Bombay Canteen. This dish features the season’s best winter carrots that are marinated and charred over coal and served along with whipped goat cheese, mint and salt roasted pistachios,” Hussain shares.
2. Chef Bhairav Singh, Executive Chef at Native Bombay
A Rise in Singular Concept Focused Restaurants
“With people travelling overseas and getting knowledgeable in global cuisines, expectations are higher. This has given rise to restaurants being more focused on delivering a singular concept based experience rather than a world cuisine experience. The concept could be a singular ingredient or cuisine, but the ultimate goal will be focusing on a particular element and acing the gastronomy experience,” the chef says.
3. Urvika Kanoi, Chef & Owner of Café Duco
From North East India To Korea
Chef Urvika believes that the North East has an incredible bounty of produce and delicious food to share. “I don’t feel we have managed to scratch the surface of it. Chefs are really focusing on this and bringing its bounty to all the customers. Lesser known but definitely not lesser flavours–the stews, fish, bamboo meat, and chutneys are making their way to menus in a big way,” she shares. “Due to the increase in interest towards K-Dramas & K-Pop, the Korean food craze is at a high be it authentic or fusion cafes and micro restaurants. These are going to be the cuisine highlights of the year–the spicy, earthy and fresh flavours of the Northeast appealing to the old & new as well as Korean food bringing tons of amazing spices, fun viennoiserie, and decadent & pillowy desserts. Ramen, dumplings, cream cheese buns, bibimbap, etc, have already made their fan followers,” she adds.
Foraging, Which Leads To Ingredient-Driven Menus
“More and more chefs are turning to forage, looking for new and indigenous ingredients, and making the produce shine. This really inspires their menus be it in the form of a dish or dedicating the whole menu to it. Chef-driven menus are what customers are looking for–they don’t mind a mix of cuisines or flavour profiles, they want to see the chef’s specialties and innovation. This is going to continue to be the highlight in all forms of F&B. Foraging does not only happen in forests and far away lands, it can happen close to home (restaurants in this case) and the results are usually mind blowing. Chefs experiment, try new things and create new dishes. This also showcases seasonal and local produce which keeps the customer engaged with a rotating menu,” Urvika says.
Indian Spirits Are Breaking The Mould
The Indian alco-bev scene has certainly seen a boom with the rise in homegrown labels, cocktail events and bar takeovers. “There is a huge range of incredible Indian spirits now available and more in the pipeline. From beer to tequila to gin and whiskey, everything is being brewed in the homeland with many new brands coming up. Collabs, takeovers, and events are an absolutely genius way to bring the drink to the people–they are creative, fun and informative. With production and interest in indigenous spirits rising, producers have started tours, food and spirit pairing, and walks that showcase how the spirit is made. They are also organising and taking part in events and becoming a part of fabulous menus,” the chef shares.
4. Chef Rahul Punjabi, Executive Chef at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra
Chef & Grower Relationship
“One of the important food trends is the relationship that I have with my farmer,” chef Rahul shares. “It’s common sense to know that our food comes from the farm but we often tend to overlook this simple fact and start looking at produce like an icon on an ordering sheet. Working hand in hand with our farmers is key in helping us know what’s in season, what’s new and in what unique ways we can use their produce. It was not so long ago that foragers and farmers with old knowledge of the land introduced chefs to ‘weeds’ like the wood sorrel that now adorn the plates of many a fine dining restaurant; and with more chefs seeing the importance of this relationship, we’re bound to see a major trend emerging from here, and I’m all for it,” he adds.
“A notable dish that was born out of this relationship is our Squash Blossom Poshto. Not only do the flowers come from Little Giant Greens’s farm, but the owner Anuj also happens to be Bengali. Pairing the blossoms with Bengali flavours was a tribute to his Bengali heritage,” Rahul says.
Open Fire Cooking
The age-old technique is making a comeback in the age of modern fine dining. “As we move ahead with new modern cooking techniques, we find ourselves coming back a full circle to one of the earliest things that helped us as a species become cooks in the truest form–fire,” the chef shares. “It’s undeniable that anything cooked over an open flame will have heaps of flavour. The very act of fire is a combination of several chemical reactions; add to that a marinated piece of meat, slowly dripping rendered fat over hot embers resulting in smoke billowing upwards to lick the meat. The cooking technique is both rustic and highly refined. Surrounded by a menage of garnishes and intricately plated elements, a piece of coal roasted meat stands out as it adds that elemental, raw nature to a dish that takes us back to a very ancient sense of fulfilment–that of having meat roasting on a flame,” he adds.
5. Sumit Gambhir, Director and Co-founder, Neighbourhood Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. (Woodside Inn, Mumbai)
Sumit tells us that Japanese and Vietnamese (besides Korean) food will see more focus and introductions in menus. “We’ve seen Asian food trending this year and chefs are using ingredients like Miso, Gochujang and Togarashi in European menus too,” he says.
6. Chef Glyston, City Chef, BOSS Burgers Brews + BBQs (Impresario Handmade Restaurants)
Rise In Food Deliveries & Indoor Catering
“With the city being heavy in traffic, more people are choosing to order in from their favourite restaurants. The additional offers available on delivery are also changing the customer’s perspectives on spending. There is a shift towards destinations being the key focus for celebrations. More people are opting to host house parties at exotic locations with catering from a mix of their favourite brands or home chefs,” the chef tells us.
7. Harmeet Singh, Owner & Chef, Turban Tales, Mumbai
Local & Unpopular Ingredients
“This is the year of classics and local unpopular ingredients. We will see a great shift in the vegetarian trend at large. Classics like unpolished rice are coming back in trend and unpopular ingredients like black carrot, flat beans, ice apple, pumpkin, apple gourd, banana stem etc would be highlighted on menus this year,” Singh shares.
8. Atul Chopra, Partner at Enso Hospitality (Yazu & Maai)
Fermented and Pickled Food and Drinks
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According to Atul, people’s efforts to balance health and wellness with their desire to seek comfort and enjoyment from foods and beverages will drive many trends in 2023. “The tangy, funky flavours of fermented and pickled foods and beverages have gained mainstream popularity over the last several years, and several trend forecasts predict they are among the top food and beverage trends to watch out for in 2023,” he says.
“As per Technomic, menus will start to include names of specific preservation methods, such as Lacto-fermentation, now that consumers are becoming more familiar with the processes. Expect pickling to extend to everything from proteins and French fries to herbs and nuts, while pickled ingredients, themselves, will top unexpected dishes. At the bar, sour cocktails containing fermented, gut-healthy ingredients such as kombucha, miso, and sake will gain momentum,” he adds.