Sustainability is2020’sbest-kept secret

With an eco-friendly wave taking over the food business, Neeta Lal talks about how this new trend will remain at the core of how food is approached

Dhungar galawati kebab

Each year, food movements usher in a new drift across the F&B landscape. New culinary trends and concepts are ushered in, old ones fall by the wayside, and so it goes on.

Keeping with this organic cycle, what will be the predominant trends for the year 2020? According to the country’s top chefs and restaurateurs, sustainability and mindful consumption will strongly influence food habits this year.

Sustainability is not just a trend, it is here to stay. “People are slowly, yet progressively becoming conscious of their food intake and the ramifications this has on the environment. This awareness is propelling them to eat healthy,” elaborates executive chef Sudarshan Bhandari of Eros Hotel, New Delhi.

With an eco-friendly wave taking over the food industry, sustainability will remain at the core of how food is approached in 2020 — be it fair trade or proper disposal of food waste or portion control for individuals.

With an exponentially growing population across the world, the current practices of production and consumption of food and beverages are not really sustainable, say F&B experts. A radical shift is needed in consumption practices towards sustainability. This is where the ‘zero waste’ movement, employment for local community and chemical-free foods will gain currency.

Backed with the knowledge that eating what’s grown where you live is most prudent, not to forget the freshness that comes with local produce, the spotlight will be more on indigenous ingredients and cutting down on food miles (the distance food travels from farms to homes).

Local and fresh will rule the roost. Chefs will also increasingly prepare each dish from scratch, be it the bread basket, crisps, salsa or mayonnaise, or even the Indian garam masala or gravies, say restauranteurs. This will be a comforting thought for discerning diners keen on relishing fresh, unpreserved foods.

With people going back to basic home-cooked foods, authentic old ingredients will capture restaurant menus. A new-found love for heritage millets and old-world recipes is making its way back into home kitchens. Blame it on the rise of lifestyle diseases or the Indian love for all things traditional, forgotten grains like millets, jowar and bajra will edge out the less healthy all-purpose flour in cakes, cookies, and various Indian breads, add chefs.

Microgreens will inhabit a prime spot in fine-dining kitchens. It will be all about adding nutritional value to food and it comes with a bonus of enhancing aesthetics, too.

That being said, microgreens have intense flavours and are capable of uplifting an otherwise mediocre dish. According to Vikram Ganpule, executive chef, Andaz Delhi, sustainable sourcing and plant-forward recipes will lead to sourcing of artisanal produce as well.

He says, “Although consumers will continue to look for immersive and unique culinary experiences, there will be a radical shift towards ‘going back to basics’ with classic Indian dishes grabbing the spotlight. Keeping in mind this upcoming trend, AnnaMaya, in Delhi, introduced a menu to celebrate artisans and seasonal sourcing as well as local ingredients.”

“Food halls, too, underpin the ‘made in India’ concept, as all products used have to be produced in India, must have a socially inspiring story behind the business execution, and their current business module must be socially relevant in order to help communities and their respective environments within India,” he adds.

The new menu, showcases classic winter favourites like saag paneer, a traditional preparation with spinach and homemade cheese, and sarson da saag — mustard leaves with makkai ki roti, white butter, and jaggery.

Chef signature recipes here, include prawn linguini with black garlic and truffle oil; dal muradabadi with chur chur naan and the rogan josh millet khichdi with raita, Kumaoni pickle to name a few. This menu showcases healthy signature recipes and comfort food.

The menu is designed around consciously-sourced ingredients from local artisans who directly or indirectly contribute towards the well-being of the society. On offer are a selection of grilled meats, seafood, vibrant salads, light modern curries, coffees, lassies and re-imagined cocktails. Green menus — featuring leafy vegetables, salads, vegan and organic items — which will become popular
and more and more chefs will be tapping into the goodness of greens in the coming year.

Sorrento, an award-winning Italian restaurant at Shangri La Hotel, New Delhi, took things to the next level recently by introducing a ‘chlorophyll menu’, an ode to ‘chlorophyll’, the pigment that aids human existence by increasing blood-cell production, detoxification and circulation.

In addition, multi-grain and whole wheat Neapolitan pizzas have edged out the carb-loaded pizza from the menu. Instead, the restaurant taps into a network of local vendors for sustainable and fresh seafood. The dishes are customised as per guests’ choice — be it poached, grilled or baked. Sorrento’s signature salt-roasted Barramundi fish, for instance, is cooked and covered with salt and roasted in the oven to prevent loss of nutrients.

Sustainability, farm to table, fresh organic produce, regional authentic dishes and the use of seasonal vegetables will thus rule in 2020.

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