If the last few months are any indication, Goan food is the latest food trend hitting Mumbai’s culinary scene. The launch of O Pedro from The Bombay Canteen stable in BKC, was followed by A.D. Singh’s Lady Baga franchise adding a touch of surf and sea to Kamala Mills. January will see the Goan and Portuguese restaurant Porto and Poie open in Juhu. This year has seen regional Indian food find new focus in restaurant menus and drinks. Goan food getting mainstream is just one example. Other restaurants are showcasing food from popular cuisines – South Indian, for example – that go beyond the obvious dishes. Will this trend continue to evolve in the New Year? Have we seen the last of activated charcoal blackening our dishes? Is it time to finally say goodbye to molecular Indian fusion food? We seek out answers from the city’s chefs and restaurateurs.
Manu Chandra, chef and partner, Fatty Bao and Monkey Bar
Biggest trend/sof the year: South Indian food has made a big foray; food from the south of the Vindhyas and goes beyond idli and dosa . People opened up to the diversity of Indian ingredients. It’s the cool new thing to do. It’s a travesty because as soon as something starts being trendy, it has a tendency to fade.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: This year the millet will shine, thanks to the effort of the people of Karnataka and the government. This is something that is going to change the foodscape and also give back to the farmer and the land.
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: Cities in other parts of country will be coming to fore with cool concepts. We will see places like Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur and Chandigarh come up to speed with the big four cities. The food and restaurant markets have matured. The bottled beer craze will see new beer and spirit brands make an entry in the market.
Thomas Zacharias, executive chef and partner, The Bombay Canteen
Biggest trend/s of the year: Healthy food alternatives have been around for a few years but they’re getting more nuanced. Vegan food, gut friendly dishes, super seeds like chia and flax are all becoming popular. People use activated charcoal in burger buns – they are not doing it for health reasons but for the sake of being trendy.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: There is a lot of talk about millets internationally so of course, people in India will take notice. Besides, many are choosing to go gluten free and thus, turning to other grains. Millets will soon become cool.
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: Indian cuisines will come to the forefront. This is the year for regional Indian restaurants to come up. We will see a lot more food from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and possibly, Kashmir. The use of local ingredients and regional food will only get stronger in the coming year, and will take on different shapes and forms.
Riyaaz Amlani, C.E.O & M.D., Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
Biggest trend/s of the year: Healthy food has become a trend marked by demand. People have started asking for paleo and keto and gluten-free food. Ethnic cuisine is finding different form and flavour with people trying to understand why this food is a particular way. Customers are trying new things — food from south India, northeast and even lesser known ethnic foods like Burmese. This is only going to get stronger.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: Chefs will take more pride in using local ingredients as opposed to importing everything. Earlier, we had a big overhang: if ingredients are being imported, it has to be nice. So what if it was mass produced abroad? This year will see a focus on artisanal products, sourced from farms and cheese-makers and farmers.
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: There is a growing interest in alkaline food and fermentation. Indian food does use a lot of fermentation and this will find space in restaurant menus. This year we saw kombucha, next year it could be something else.
Rahul Akerkar, founder and Managing Director at Qualia Hospitality Pvt Ltd
Biggest trend/s of the year: Locally, there has been a shift to try and use indigenously sourced ingredients, and not depend as much on imported stuff. We have great fish here locally, why import sea bass, basa and others? A lot of people are now experimenting with Indian food. I think people will start developing international style operations around different local cuisines and flavours.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: There’s no one ingredient that will stand out. We are an un-evolved dining market here in India. We’re still exploring meat and potatoes. No one will concentrate on trying to evolve one particular ingredient as of yet.
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: I’d like to think that people are now moving away from edamame dumplings and truffle fries. I hope the coming year will see a more focused dining, more elevated experience. I hope restaurants will stop becoming nightclubs after 10 p.m. at night. This year will see people who have the financial backing (the larger restaurant groups) moving into tier-2 and-3 cities and other smaller towns, taking along existing concepts. Culinary wise, we will see a sense of refinement and an expression of our own culinary ethos rather than following other people.
Kelvin Cheung, chef and partner, Bastian and One Street Over
Biggest trend/s of the year: There has been an increased focus on health with keto and gluten-free food, and healthy grains showing up on menus.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: Nut-based dairy alternatives like vegan cheeses.
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: Farming! This will be everything from vertical gardens in your home to farms run by restaurants. Bio-hacking, eating specifically for your brain, blood type and body type. Fermentation – everything from coconut yoghurt to shrubs at the bar! There will be more focus on sugar alternatives and plant-based products.
Pooja Dhingra, founder of Le15 Patisserie and Studio Fifteen Culinary Centre
Biggest trend/s of the year: Globally, we saw a lot of unicorn things – frappuccinos, cakes, cookies, macarons and more. For cakes, naked cakes with floral decorations were very big. People are moving from mini desserts to giant sizes. In Mumbai, freakshakes and galaxy cakes continue to be popular; we also saw a lot of egg wrap waffles.
Ingredient/s of the coming year: Sea salt, salted caramel
Food/ restaurants trends for 2018: Light desserts, vegan, gluten-free, protein packed desserts. There will be a focus on more local ingredients and digital menus.
(with inputs from Aishwarya Kulkarni)