It’s that time of the year when predictions are being made about food trends in 2017. A perusal of the umpteen lists on the subject suggests that the biggest trend seems to be health and unusual ingredients. Unusual because these are all western lists that seem to have drawn from cuisines from around the world. For example, ghee, referred to as a ‘condiment’, is said to be one of the new introductions in the coming year. Another emphasis is on coconut in all its avatars—as a drink (coconut water), oil and edible. It might become the ‘kale’ of 2017.
Japanese food has always been ‘cool’, but now it’s going to go beyond sushi. Having acclimatised the palate to the unique tastes of Japanese cuisine, experts believe that other dishes will make an entry into mainstream dining and ingredients like miso, sesame oil and mirin will be more widely used.
The other aspect that the multiple lists seem to be highlighting is the increase of vegetables in our diets. This doesn’t necessarily mean people are becoming vegetarian, but that they are now opting to reduce non-vegetarian food and move towards more vegetarian options. The colour ‘purple’ will be in vogue, with vegetables that are purple finding favour (yet to figure this one out completely!). However, even pastas will be made with veggies and alternative ingredients like quinoa and lentils. This thrust towards vegetables, it is assumed, will create artisan butcheries, which will celebrate the ‘craft’ of butchery and charcuterie. High-priced and bespoke, these little establishments will cost top-dollar, but cater to a discerning meat-eating clientele.
We will also see a move from microwave-ready meals to over-ready meals. It will take longer, but is considered tastier and healthier. It’s not quite slow food as yet, but is certainly more conscious eating.
India is not far behind when it comes to recall in terms of international dining trends. The new buzz word is ‘dosha’ dining—taking forward the practice of eating bearing Ayurvedic principles in mind. This philosophy of eating is considered helpful for emotional and physical balance, and well being. For those with a sweet tooth, another trend being highlighted is ‘cake + wake’ that means introducing a slice of morning goodness in breakfast that ‘could’ lead to weight loss. This is a big ‘could’ and comes with no guarantees except for assuaging whiplash from guilty pleasures!
Keeping in view the big veggie trend for next year, the plant butchery seems set to dominate, where meat substitutes will find a ready market and hungry consumers.
Meanwhile, the rail enthusiast in me is thrilled at the addition of an onboard pantry in a newly-launched train, replete with a coffee machine. As trains, especially speedier ones, make fewer stops at stations and tea-coffee service is decidedly insipid onboard (I am a winter hot-brew drinker), this is a welcome addition. For mothers who travel with infants, there is often trouble warming the baby’s milk. With this pantry, things should become far more convenient.
The year 2016 saw a lot of big food trends—some anticipated, most not so. The turmeric trend was very heartening. This multi-purpose item found in every Indian home has got short shrift in our own kitchens and lifestyles, but made a fashionable entry into the barista and latte world of the West. It achieved an exalted position for its goodness and inherent restorative qualities.
So it might be a good time to introduce it back into our lives with more consciousness. A pinch of turmeric in a glass of milk is the way forward. It’s time to include healing in our daily food habits. It might be just as easy as raiding our own kitchen cabinets and googling the properties of the many ingredients we find there.
Advaita Kala is a writer, most recently of the film Kahaani. She is also a former hotelier having worked in restaurants in India and abroad