8 Culinary Trends Observed in 2018

2018 was a pretty promising year as far as culinary trends are concerned. A lot of conventional things have taken a back seat, paving way to newer trends. Certain concepts being introduced, yet many other re-introduced to suit the modern times. Here’s a look at the top 8 culinary trends observed during the past year.

1. Rise in Vegetarian Restaurants

Pulled Bhuna Jackfruit Wrap at Kalinga Veg Gourmet Kitchen. Nikita [@sangriamulgi]

With the adverse effects of globalization and industrialization taking a toll on general health, people are turning health-conscious. An increasing number of people are adopting plant-based diets.  This is also fuelled by the ameliorating quality of produce available in the market.

To fill the market demand, a plethora of restaurants serving exclusive vegetarian gourmet food are cropping up across metros and large cities.

In addition to this, established restaurants are offering more vegetarian options to their patrons. Plant-based dairy [‘milk’ derived from nuts] and veganism are also on the rise.

Where in Pune?

2018 saw a multitude of vegetarian restaurants in Pune such as Kalinga Veg Gourmet, The Vegetable, The Basil Deck, Tales and Spirits Bistro, etc.

2. Use of Local Ingredients

Moringa is hailed as the new superfood. © The Independent

Quinoa is so 2017. It’s time for ragi to shine.

Better agricultural practices adopted by farmers and an increasing awareness in the people has brought in a resurgence of local ingredients.

Cuisine-specific ingredients are making their way to the menu. Chefs are flexing their skills to turn these ingredients gourmet, to appease the palate of the diners.

Possibly the best example could be Moringa, or drumstick leaf, which is being touted as a superfood in the West. Moringa is marking its presence from tasting menus in fine dines to the protein shakes of gym-bros.

Where in Pune?

Moringa leaves are generally available at your local vegetable vendor. If not, try Shivaji Market or Mandai. The dried powder form is available online.

3. Superfoods

Move over the açai berry. 2018 marked the reign of 3 superfoods in a powdered form [superpowders, anyone?] – turmeric, matcha, and charcoal.

Turmeric Milk – an Indian classic drink

Turmeric has long been a staple in Indian kitchens. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a wonder drug in Ayurvedic terms. Somehow, this humble golden root has made it to the Western cuisines, to the extent that the coffee giant Starbucks has capitalized on it – golden turmeric lattes, y’all.

Possibly the healthiest green tea, Matcha is a versatile superpowder.

Possibly the healthiest [and definitely the most expensive] of all green teas is the Japanese matcha. This vivid green tea powder is a super favourite of Instagrammers – think scores of matcha lattes and even more matcha desserts. Its antioxidant properties and earthy flavor make it an easy and healthy addition to daily nutrition.

Although it may seem unappetizing at first, activated charcoal powder is a fairly delectable addition to the list of superpowders. Like matcha, it is quite popular for desserts [think charcoal ice-cream, charcoal waffles], yet it lends a subtle smoky earthiness to savoury dishes – think charcoal buns for burgers, squid ink replaced with charcoal in fresh pasta preparations, etc.

Where in Pune?

Turmeric is available easily in the market. Matcha and charcoal powder can be ordered online via Amazon.

Try the Charcoal ice-cream at Icekraft, FC Road.

4. Food in a Bowl

Poké Bowl. ©  JommyBommy
Classically vegan, Buddha bowls can often be a complete meals in themselves.

Going back to basics, thanks to health-conscious Instagrammers, people have started to eat meals in bowls.

Meals could be any time of the day – from smoothie bowls for breakfast, to salad bowls for lunch, to dessert bowls for a sweet fix after dinner.

What make food in a bowl so appealing? Simply put, the individual ingredients [or cooked foods] are presented in a manner that emphasizes on the freshness and most importantly, the colours. Our primate brains are conditioned to find bright colourful things to be attractive, hence the appeal.

Three types of meal bowls are prominent:

    • Buddha bowls – primarily vegan, loosely based on Buddhist philosophical principles
    • Burrito bowls – simply a burrito in a bowl minus the wrap, replaced by cooked whole grains
  • Poké bowls – no, not Pokémon balls, but yeah, they definitely contain seafood and/or meat; a gift of Hawaiian cuisine

Where in Pune?

Burrito bowls are available across multi-cuisine restaurants such as Chili’s, The Irish House, Company, 11 East Street, etc.

5. Mushrooms

Full of earthy deliciousness, Mushrooms can be used in a variety of savoury dishes.

It’s 2018 guys. Stop debating over mushrooms.

These humble little fungi [get it?] are making their mark in their varied forms – from wild and foraged [Noma, the 4-time #1 restaurant in the world] to the common farmed ones, to the exotic ones [enoki, shiitake, oyster, etc.]

Of late, people have realized the culinary as well as health benefits of mushrooms – ranging from boosting immunity, to improving sex drive. Needless to say, chefs are trying to incorporate mushroom-based dishes in their menus.

Where in Pune?

Button mushrooms by Weikfield are available at your local kirana store. The exotic varieties can be found on Big Basket and Godrej Nature’s Basket.

6. Revival of Ethnic Cuisines

Naga Lamb Stew – a modern take on a classic. © Mineority by Saby

Local ingredients aren’t the only thing that are making a comeback in 2018. Indian chefs, it seems, are on a crusade to ‘revive’ obscure and ethnic cuisines. Celebrity chefs like Vikas Khanna, Kunal Kapur and Ranveer Brar have been travelling throughout the country to explore flavours unknown.

Chef Thomas Zachariah of The Bombay Canteen fame embarks on regular food trips around the country, learning new stuff and implementing his findings with his own twist in the restaurant’s menus. O Pedro in BKC, Mumbai is a restaurant-bar that focuses mainly on Goan cuisine, including the Saraswat Brahmin style of cooking. Closer here in Pune, Mineority by chef Sabyasachi Gorai [Chef Saby] focuses on the cuisine(s) of the mining communities of India, going as far as to incorporate north-eastern ingredients. Gavkari and Purepur Kolhapur among several others serve authentic Kolhapuri fare to Punekars.

Where in Pune?

Mineority by Saby – Kalyani Nagar, Gavkari – Kothrud, Purepur Kolhapur – multiple outlets

7. Rise in Café Culture

A classic breakfast at the renowned Vohuman Café, Pune. © Sheel Jhaveri

Contrary to popular belief, the proliferation of Starbucks hasn’t deterred local players in the market. Cafés are popping up exponentially and thriving equally well.

With rise in disposable incomes and a curious attitude to try new stuff, millennials are visiting cafés on a regular basis. The term ‘café’ is loosely used – establishments serving only coffee [or tea] are passé. It is time for the pâtisserie-café-bistro-bar hybrid, all named under the umbrella term ‘café’.

That said, the heritage of Irani and Parsi [yes, there’s a difference] cafés hasn’t diminished. In fact, new age Irani and Parsi cafés with modern interiors serving the classic bun maska-chai are on the rise. These new establishments are quickly becoming social hangout venues for youngsters, leaving the heritage cafés for the older generations.

Besides this, a rising appreciation for Indian coffee has led to the rise of brands such as Blue Tokai, Koinonia, Flying Squirrel, Seven Beans Co., etc.

Where in Pune?

Heritage cafés like Goodluck and Vohuman are household names.

New age cafés include JD’s Café in Camp, Irani Café in Kalyani Nagar, and Aur Irani Chai in Aundh.

Most coffee brands mentioned above are available online.

8. Ascent of the Microbrewery

Belgian Wheat Beer at Ales, Brews and Ciders.

Beer may not be the most consumed beverage [hint: it’s tea], but it definitely makes the top 5. And although packaged beer will never go out of fashion, craft beer is on the rise. Enter the dragon – the microbrewery in this case.

These establishments produce craft beer in micro-batches, which is sort of misleading, because they are still thousands of litres of beer. The major difference between microbreweries and the beer giants is the sheer ability to constantly revamp their offerings. These include beer in its varied forms – ales, bitters, ciders, lagers, porters and stouts. Mead, another alcoholic beverage, is similar to beer except for the fact that it is produced by fermenting honey.

Flavoring agents for beer include:

    • Fruits – citrus being the obvious choice, other fruits such as mangoes and peaches are also used
    • Aromatics like vanilla, spices such as cinnamon, cardamom and cloves
    • Acidic agents like kokum [mangosteen] and tamarind
  • Tea [Earl Grey] and coffee

Where in Pune?

Doolally, Independence Brewing Co. and Effingut Brewerkz are pretty well-known. Local brands include Ales, Brews and Ciders in Kalyani Nagar, Kimaya Brewing Co based in Pirangut [available at certain locations across Pune], Moonshine Meadery [available at certain locations] and the upcoming Great State Aleworks [exclusive to a few restaurants in Koregaon Park].

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