Predicting what people would eat in the months ahead can have the same efficacy as palm reading. But then a well-researched report, one that also involves people who influence what we eat - the likes of restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists, food producers - stands a better chance at hitting the bull's eye.
On Thursday, at the curtain-raiser of the 4th Tasting India Symposium, a forum to promote better understanding of India's diverse culinary heritage, the Godrej Food Trends Report 2020 was previewed. The survey has been designed by food writer Rushina Munshaw Ghildyal and involves inputs from over 150 food business experts in 13 Indian cities.
Here are five of the 10 trends the report underlines:
- Mindful eating will get bigger in 2020. This, in itself, is not a new trend and has been around for a few years but there is growing conversation around the source - traceability - or where the food comes from. Many consumers, for instance, demand organic meat. The trend has already led to the rise of start-ups that promise sourcing of antibiotic-free chicken and chemical-free fish.
- There would be a deeper exploration of South-East Asian flavours in the year ahead. The restaurant industry is likely to come up with specialist menus from previously unexplored cuisines from the region. South-East Asian flavours are also closer to Indian tastebuds.
- The micro-cuisines of India would continue to gain in prominence with the rise of the neighbourhood 'foodpreneur'. "The growing demand for fresh, hygienic and familiar ghar ka khana, combined with the convenience of digital communications and payment platforms, will encourage many more traditional, regional and community cooks to run mini-enterprises from their home kitchens, offering limited daily specials to small communities of their fans," the report states. Many women who run home kitchens are curating menus for restaurants.
- One could also expect a proliferation of desi flavours. "As an outcome of the persistent demand for all things indigenous, consumers should expect to see a proliferation of desi flavours in everything from small plates to cocktails, and even desserts in 2020," the report says. Bihari cuisine has gained prominence; 2020 could be the year of the North East.
- Next year, consumers and restaurants could prefer traditional fats - desi ghee and cold-pressed local seed oils - over other options for cooking. Already, Indian cheese makers are producing cheese from the milk of single origin A2 cow, a high quality milk from Hallikar cows, a breed native to Karnataka. The use of single origin A2 milk often infuses more character to cheese.