The menu for 2016

The menu for 2016

FOOD TRENDS Say

The menu for 2016

Before you pick that little black dress and stilettos, or a crisp shirt to match with oxfords for the dinner, peep into the dictionary first. No, this is no pro-tip for an intellectual dine-con (conversation), but in 2016 you might need the dictionary when the waiter lays the menu on the table. For 2016, the menu hot-probables are kohlrabi, purslane, tautog, kamut, kaniwa, freekeh, teff and farro.

Told you, you’d need the dictionary for dinner. Add to this list, the intrigue of Buddha bowls, globowls and spiralised vegetables. Not flabbergasted yet. What if the waiter puts zoodles on your plate? 2016 will give the foodie a few surprises. But don’t you worry, some familiar things will stay put. Bacon, for instance. It is not going anywhere this year. 

And when you are hungry, do not run to the kitchen. Pick your phone, open an app, order, and food will be at the door before your stomach can growl twice. In 2016, technology will drive how we get our food. There are countless food delivery apps, but with Amazon, Uber and Google making it to the food delivery market, eating out could be out and eating in, in. 

Last year saw the beginning of the end of tipping and David Corsun, director, Fritz Knoebel Scho-ol of Hospitality Management at the University Of Denver Daniels School Of Business, argues that tipping is going to become less and less popular this year. Will India follow suit? Only time will tell.

What’s hot?

But before rolling the 2016 food trends, let’s get the dictionary out. Kohlrabi is a cabbage cousin. We have been eating it for ages (ganth-gobhi in Hindi) but the West is discovering that part-bulb, part-leafy veggie now. Purslane is an easy to grow succulent weed with a little crunch and slight lemony taste. With 2016 focussing on plant-centred food, these two are having their glorious moment. Tautog is a not so common fish making it big because this year chefs will spare salmon and tuna and stress on using the underutilised fish. Kamut, kaniwa, freekeh, teff and farro are ancient grains that are being brought back from oblivion.

Diners are spurning the plate and taking to bowls for a meal. A Buddha bowl (aka glory or hippie bowl) is laden with various greens, raw or roasted vegetables, beans with a handful of quinoa or brown rice. A complete meal this! Globowl is globally-inspired healthy bowls and zoodles are zucchini spiralled as noodles/pasta. Spiralised vegetables are surely big this year. Then, there’s the sriracha effect that will continue its run in 2016. The Thai hot chilli sauce will find companions in ghost pepper, sambal, goch-ujang, harissa, sumac and dukka (all spices).

Let’s lend an ear to the wise ol’ man called the United Nations which has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. (According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, pulses as annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod, used for both food and feed.) Beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils will piggyback this protein-packed UN diktat. Chickpeas will step beyond its fame as hummus, the iconic Lebanese dish. Chickpea pilaf, roasted chickpea, chickpea stew will garner more respect. 

Plant-centred food is occupying larger space on the menu. Not that meat is falling off the menu (bacon is certainly here for good), but do not be surprised if you find roasted cauliflower ‘steak’ for dinner or butternut squash as the understudy of rib-eyes. This year, you’ll see — and eat — more of kalettes, parsnips, purslane, colourful squashes, broccoflower, rainbow carrots and seaweed.

New twist

The surprise 2016 heartthrob will be avocado, in all possible forms. Not just the clichéd guacamole. Avocado will conquer the sweet as well as the savoury territory. It will find its way in puddings, smoothies, brownies, ice-cream and cakes. Beyond the sweet tooth, there will be baked avocado fries, avocado sushi, pasta sauce and salad dressing. What will win the game for this alligator pear is the avocado-egg combination. Bake an egg in the avocado half or slather mashed avocado on toasted bread, top it with hot sauce
and poached egg.

Avocado on toast is among the hottest food trends of the year.
This year, fat may shed its evil reputation. The focus is shifting and the shift is backed with scientific research. There will no longer be the low-fat chant. Researchers believe that it is not the amount, but the quality of fat that maters. Surely, the chant now will be healthy fats and not low-fat. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) will continue to get the thumbs-down. And no, despite robust predictions in 2014 about insects landing on the meal plates, 2016 will also not see much of insects as food.

Let’s peep into some famous kitchens and see what’s trending, shall we? Chef David Biton of King David Hotel in Jerusalem is shunning edible thickening agents like flour and starch and using more and more puree of vegetables. Haim Spiegel, director of the food and beverage department, Dan Hotels (Israel), corroborates this as a growing trend in Israel because freshly picked fruits and vegetables are available now available almost through the year due to the country’s advanced agriculture methods.

Henry Salgado of Spanish River Grill restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, touts octopus as the big 2016 hit — think octopus char grilled with pimenton, potatoes and caramelised onions. 

Jason Goddard, chef de cuisine, Sea Salt Restaurant in Naples, Florida (US), identifies aphrodisiac-inspired food as a trend to watch out for. An example is his ‘Oysters on a Foggy Day in Venice’ – an enriched aphrodisiac of cream and brine, providing a small delicious mystery hiding in every shell.

Closer home, Chef Vikash Prasad of Crowne Plaza, Jaipur, vouches for hyper local sourcing and ethnicity of the food, which will bring new ingredients, cooking techniques and flavours in geographic locations this year. On the other hand, Gaurav Magoo, food and beverage director, Novotel Imagica Khopoli, is betting on fusion, slow and healthy food. Thinking of teaming unknown flavours with traditional fare (like pizza topped with bhut jolokia, the world’s hottest chilli and cocktails loaded with turmeric), he is laying a wager on the popularity of Polynesian cuisine.

So, the next time someone asks ‘hungry kya?’, pull out a bowl, load it with pulses (remember, UN wants you to eat them), top it with spiralled vegetables, add zing with sriracha. And then, slurp. That bowl is trending in 2016.

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