A food trend report says that this year will see ordinary vegetables becoming the new ‘exotic’. The report was released by Godrej Group. In keeping with the trend, many restaurants in the city have already started to incorporate vegetables like bitter gourd, lauki and tinda in their menu.
Industry experts spoke to Metrolife about the increased preference for these veggies.
Manu Chandra, chef-partner, ‘Toast and Tonic’, says that people have a tendency of grabbing on to anything that is new but finally gravitate to what is around them.
“Restaurants have not really represented local biodiversities. This is changing with the new generation of chefs, who are excited about what’s around them rather than what may seem exotic,” he says.
He doesn’t think the preference for local vegetables is a sudden one; it is rather about coming full circle.
“We should be able to celebrate and taste what is fresh and local first, before trying to embrace something exotic,” he adds.
Manu says that these vegetables can be grown locally because they are more conducive to the climatic conditions and the soil of the region.
“It is a good thing that we are going back to sustainable practices but this should not just be a fad, it should be continuous. The sustainable movement is something that the
world should start looking forward to in the long term. It will help future generations to eat well and give back to the planet.”
Chef Avin Thaliath, co-founder, Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts, believes that if any product doesn’t grow in a particular region and is not geographically supported, it should not be consumed. Nature has its own ways to hint the diet someone should have.
“Ideally, we should consume vegetables that grow in abundance within 100 km and are seasonal. In European countries, farmers are given more preference. Chefs come second. Though we tend to copy the European way a lot, we fail to understand that sustainability is the future.”
He feels that many are using this as a fashion statement. “Using local vegetables should not be a marketing gimmick. It should be supported by efforts from the government.”
Chef Nuthan, Brew and Barbeque, feels that there are two reasons behind the sudden surge of ordinary vegetables in restaurant menus. It adds more options for vegetarians and they are cost effective and easily available throughout the year.
“Local vegetables like sweet potatoes, white pumpkin, bottle gourd, bitter gourd and raddish are becoming extremely
popular in restaurants these days. It acts as a good twist to the usual menu and enhances the experience of a vegetarian customer. Local veggies are soft in nature, so the cooking time is less and it retains its nutritional properties,” says chef Nuthan.
Prathik Shetty, founding partner, ‘The Reservoire’, says that using local vegetables induces nostalgia and makes customers feel at home. One of the dishes that his restaurant has come up with is ‘Tri-Colour Halwa’. It is prepared with pumpkin, beetroot and carrot.
“This halwa is in remembrance of the home food made by our mothers. They always try to incorporate something healthy in our diet. I feel restaurants are understanding the importance of having a fine balance when it comes to the menu choices. I see it gradually becoming a norm soon,” says Prathik.
Sujit Patil, vice president, and head corporate brand and communications, Godrej Industries Limited & Associate Companies, says, “Going back to the roots is the need of the hour. The increase in the number of health conscious people and bloggers have increased the demand for these vegetables. Thanks to them, there is increased acceptance of these local vegetables in many restaurants today.”