In the past couple of years, the average Indian consumer has embarked on a journey of self-discovery—from going back to heirloom recipes to exploring micro cuisines. That culinary voyage is likely to deepen in the months to come. Only now, it is going to be steered by a firm focus on wellness. The consumers are seeking clean, conscious options that allow them a deep dive into the diversity of Indian cuisine while increasing the nutrition quotient in their lives.
The annual Godrej Food Trends Report, which is a curation of different voices from the culinary world and curated by Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal of A Perfect Bite Consulting, looks at some such trends. The fifth edition makes a number of predictions for 2022, some of which include: a growing desire for artisanal ice creams, craving for reinvented burgers for in-home dining, opting for nutritionally conscious snacking and clean meats, seeking provenance driven menus, looking for vegan dishes, and more. Lounge looks at three key trends that will be driving the Indian food and beverage scene in the rest of the year:
Embracing desi vegetables
India is the eighth most biodiverse region in the world and has thousands of edible plant species. Historically, the Indian ethos has been to eat every part of the plant from the root to the leaf. People use flowers such as the Indian sorrel and roselle (tenga mora) in sour fish curries in Assam or mustard flowers in soups in Manipur. Drying vegetables is also a common practice. In Chattisgarh, people dry “everything from tomatoes, brinjal, broad beans and yams to tiwra bhaji, or pea greens which are rehydrated in hot water and cooked in lean seasons,” the report says.
While plant-based foods have only now emerged as a global fad, eating vegetables in unique ways has been a tradition in India since time immemorial. This had shifted in the early 2000s, with people moving towards exotic, imported vegetables. However, chefs like Thomas Zacharias and Prateek Sadhu have tried to instil more pride in local veggies through their menus. This is pushing Indians away from ‘gourmet’ international vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and zucchini, towards baingan, bajra, ponkh and even lauki.
The report predicts that unique plant-based proteins will be a major trend in India. This is part of the “eat healthy and local” movement. People are now gravitating towards indigenous plant-based protein options such as vadis, made of lentils like urad dal. Khoya, paneer and vegetarian koftas and kebabs made from moong dal and jackfruit—immensely popular in Kayastha cuisine—are back on the table. Meat-alternatives made of mushrooms and soya have also emerged. Restaurants have embraced the plant-based and vegan trend and are serving mock meat burgers, tempeh tacos and more.
Also read: 5 great high-protein snacks for hungry days
Making cooking convenient and healthy
80 per cent of the panel consulted to compile the report predicted that people will continue to depend on home-delivered meals from trusted sources. With people more concerned about health and hygiene in the wake of covid-19, clean preservative-free cooking aids are likely to be popular. These might include readymade spice mixes and sauces or meal subscription services.
“[Also, the cooking mediums] segment will continue to evolve in 2022, with conversations around the importance of dietary fats for nutrient absorption and rotation of fats in the diet growing,” states the report. The panel sees a continuing focus on cold pressed unrefined oils. The inherent health benefits of ghee and its adaptation to modern palates will bring gourmet premium ghee varieties into the limelight. “In the last half decade, with experts reframing oil and fat from a berated to a beneficial food category, we are also seeing them occupy gourmet segments with more locally produced premium oils like Hemp and Avacado oils,” mentions the report