Changing palate

Chef K Natarajan, corporate chef, The Gateway Hotels & Resorts presents food trends for 2015

Chef K Natarajan, corporate chef, The Gateway Hotels & Resorts presents food trends for 2015

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2014 was a year of breaking free of stiff formal dining and emergence of differentiated gastronomic experience. Just like fashion trends change every year, food trends are often subject to experiments to spice up the delicious corner of our lives. Welcoming 2015, Chef K Natarajan, corporate chef, The Gateway Hotels and Resorts, highlights the food trends for 2015 based on the behaviour pattern of the guest in recent times towards food.

Demand for home-style food

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Chef K Natarajan

With a considerable amount of increase in travel for work purpose, the new year will see hotels highlighting local cuisines with concentration to keep the flavours simple and fresh. Guests are increasingly looking for rustic, hearty, homemade foods with simple flavours. Home-style meals that are low on fat, use less oil and have simpler cooking techniques will be in demand also given the rise in lifestyle diseases. Keeping this trend in mind, The Gateway Hotels has pioneered the concept of home-style cuisine bringing in homemakers to make authentic regional food served piping hot from the kitchen as one would eat at home.

Rustic country vegetables

Country vegetables and nutrition rich tropical vegetable and fruits, like pumpkin, snake gourd and string beans will make a comeback. Heritage vegetables are gaining popularity owing to their nutrition value and their ability to supplement deficient nutrition in current diets. Indigenous vegetables such as dill, knol-khol, jackfruit, colocassia as well as traditional leafy vegetables such as malabar spinach, water amaranth, and common purslane (parappu keerai in Tamil) are being increasingly included in hotel menus. This also adds variety to the vegetarian menu giving guests a wider range of dishes to choose from.

Vegetarianism

With fitness hovering prime position on the minds of people, vegetarian food as an option will be preferred. Globally, guests are making smarter and healthier choices these days and are looking for leaner food while trying to avoid red meats and fats as much as possible. Vegetarianism has gone from just being a family habit to a lifestyle choice giving rise to the need to reinvent and come up with innovative dishes as per guest’s tastes. Urban retail outlets, in even medium-sized cities, have broccoli, iceberg lettuce and celery on their shelves. Chefs are incorporating vegetable and leafy green varieties like kale, purple yam, yellow yam, tatsoi, mizuna, white brinjal, zucchini and kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), that were unheard of in India five years ago, into their dishes. In a nutshell, now it’s chic to be vegetarian.

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Beyond wheat

Ancient grains, such as spelt, amaranth, quinoa, millet, and kamut, etc, will continue to be in demand. India is home to many such little-known grains that pack a nutritional punch and are being reintroduced into our kitchens as more and more guests are turning to a ‘gluten-free’ lifestyle. That these grains and seeds can help us fight diet-sensitive ailments, like diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders, is one of the many reasons why consumers are including them in their daily diet. Veganism is also driving demand for these alternate grains as well as non-dairy products driving hotels to include vegan options in the menu.

Local products and home grown vegetables, organic products will be getting popular and affordable

Consumers nowadays are opting for organic food. While scientists continue to debate whether organic food is healthier or not, it seems that consumers have already made up their minds. According to a recent survey, 58 per cent of chefs now choose recipes where they can use organic and natural ingredients. With consumers becoming increasingly wary of food production techniques and methods, organic, local and free-range are seeing a tremendous rise in demand. The urban market for organic products is growing at a rapid pace and it’s not just the organic farms that are dominating this trend any more, hotels are waking up to the concept of organic food too. From dedicated menus to even organic restaurants, organic food has arrived and is here to stay.

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Middle Eastern food will make a big comeback

Chefs have long praised Mediterranean cuisine for its healthy, aromatic dishes. 2015 will see the comeback of Middle Eastern food as consumer experiment with the cuisines of Turkey, Israel, and others in the region. Fragrant seasonings like sumac, za’atar and harissa will be increasingly used in recipes.

Mini meals

As the lines between work and leisure blur, ‘on-the-go’ meals that are nutritious, quick and easy are gaining in popularity. This is in sync with the new-age concept of eating little and often to meet one’s busy schedule. Both food brands and restaurants will focus on this concept offering individual serving sizes.

Umami

Sour, sweet, salty and bitter have long been considered the four main flavours we can taste. Umami, a Japanese word that describes a meaty or savory taste, is thought to be a fifth flavour. 2015 will see the rise of Umami present in ingredients such as asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat.

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