Best of Mumbai Food 2017: Six stand-out trends that added flavour to the year
Experts from the food and beverage industry pick six stand-out trends that added flavour to the year
Bajra and ricotta gnudi. Pic courtesy/Sanjay Ramchandran
Millet on the menu
Manu Chandra, Chef-partner, Monkey Bar, Fatty Bao and Toast & Tonic
'On December 12, Mumbai witnessed an organic and millet road show attended by Karnataka's Minister of Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda. The focus of chefs and the media should be to promote the return of this grain, without resorting to making it trendy by calling it a health grain.
The millet has always been a mainstream grain in India and we must propagate its use to bring about a grassroot-level change. Bengaluru has been the epicentre of this change thanks to Gowda. An increase in its use will help give back to farm land. I am always experimenting with traditional grains in the kitchen. I even made a ragi brownie, which turned out fine. In Mumbai, we have introduced a kodo and proso millet salad, bajra and ricotta gnudi and a kibbeh toast. Talks are on with the Government of India to announce 2018 as the Year of the Millet.'
Wine pour system
Rojita Tewari, Wine expert, founder of podcast Drinks and Destinations
'In terms of innovative marketing technologies, I came across a company at an international wine and spirits event this year, which makes boutique wine bags. It allows you to pour a glass from the tap attached to the bag. At the home front, the introduction of Coravin wine systems [brought to India by wine importer Aman Dhall] has been the most notable one this year.
The technology allows you to keep drinking expensive wine without having to open the bottle. A thin needle pierces through the cork, squeezes out the wine from the bottle and safely locks it back, preventing oxygen contact. This helps restaurants pour expensive wines by the glass.'
Romaine hearts and seasonal pears
Probiotic, fermentation and pickling
Rishim sachdeva, Chef, Olive Bar and Kitchen
'The seasonal availability of certain ingredients and the need to have access to them all year round call for preservation. I inherited these ideas to base my menu on fun preserving techniques. Having grown up in a family that used a lot of preservation techniques in the form of pickles or vinegar, I wanted to utilise the expertise.
Using seasonal produce, rather than importing ingredients, is my topmost priority. At our restaurant, the pea puree is seasoned with preserved lemon to add a sweet and acidic tone to the dish. We use sorrel vinegar instead of rennet to make our cheese, while lychee preserve is used as an emulsion with our fig salad.'
Healthy, gluten-free desserts
Pooja Dhingra, Pastry chef-founder, Le 15 Patisserie and Cafe
'Through the course of 2017, I noticed my kitchens were inundated with requests for customised desserts to suit specific dietary requirements. Whether it's allergy to gluten that people are more aware of, or the ethics of food that have made people choose conscious lifestyles like veganism; customers today definitely need more options.
People are making healthier lifestyle choices and products like granola, nut butters and bliss balls have become popular. We are using natural sweeteners like apple sauce, banana, date jam and more to replace processed sugar. We're replacing maida with nut flours, vegetables and other Indian grains.
All the recipes in my book, The Wholesome Kitchen, are eggless, and primarily vegan and gluten-free. We will also launch an extensive range of healthy desserts, which will have keto-friendly options and a calorie counter for the conscious consumer next year.'
Ranveer Brar, Chef
'The Kadaknath made it to many food conversations, even if it didn't make it to menus. But that will hopefully happen in the coming year. The Kadaknath is a breed of fowl or chicken that has a slight genetic modification, which causes over pigmentation. The beauty of this concept is that all the features [bones, skin, meat, blood] of this bird are black in colour.
A Korean black chicken soup. Pic/Wikimedia Commons
With the trend of black-coloured food picking up, instead of adding charcoal, chefs will look for foods that are naturally black. The gamy meat also has, what we call, the foul or poultry perfume but in a pleasant way, adding to the distinctiveness of the meat. In India, it is more commonly consumed by the tribal population, though globally, the Indonesian version is most popular.
I tasted this in Chota Nagpur plateau with the tribals, where it was cooked in a simple manner, using only onion and green chilli. The reason the Kadaknath is not popular is because on a good day, vendors charge `1,000 per kilo, while at other times, it is often not available. It is difficult to rear this meat. The trend is slowly and steadily picking up in the city, with chefs getting their supplies from vendors in Pune. I've used it a lot on my TV shows, including in a Western-style stew avatar.'
Sea buckthorn, black pepper mousse
Foraging and local
Prateek Sadhu, Chef, Masque
'For many chefs, this year was all about rediscovering forgotten ingredients. I focused on the Himalayan belt, which is an exceptional resource. On a recent trip to Kashmir, I revisited hoekhsyun - a traditional Kashmiri practice of sun-drying vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes, bottle gourds, turnips and haakh to make them winter-ready.
Sea buckthorn made it to my menu too. It's a tiny little berry, full of vitamin C and native to Ladakh. I introduced it as a pre-dessert with black pepper mousse.'
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