DINING DECODED
Business Traveller India|February - March 2021
Plated desserts from dessert-only restaurants, plant-based meals that help you stay fit and food on the wheels, and more; here’s a look at trends in India’s culinary industry
NISHA SHROFF

Even amidst the pandemic, the one industry that was frequently innovating and reinventing itself, was the F&B sector. From new ways of serving and dining to cuisine transformations and chef collaborations, the culinary industry was on its toes, devising new ways to sustain and expand.

PLANT-BASED MEALS

Now, the F&B industry has been experimenting with plant-based products, a concept which has become more mainstream recently.

Nicholas Dumbell, general manager, The St. Regis Mumbai says, “We have observed that non-vegetarians are opting for healthier lifestyles and choosing vegetarian options. Plant-based food, faux food or vegetarian substitutes with meaty textures such as jackfruit has seen a rise as well. When it comes to beverages, a lot of guests are enjoying immunity boosting drinks or hot beverages with healing herbs.”

A similar trend has been observed at The Leela Palace New Delhi. Rishi Mehra, director, food and beverage tells us that nowadays, immunity-boosting dishes/ beverages have gained attention; it is something that everyone is connecting with and looking for.

Back in the restaurant industry, restaurateurs say that there has been an increase in the number of plant-based dishes served to customers. A case in point is Pebble Street Hospitality. Keenan Tham, their director says, “I was pleasantly surprised to know that at some of our outlets, 60 per cent of dishes sold are plant-based. This has inspired my chef team to create more dishes in this space. High protein items such as red bean sesame dumpling and spicy pine nut tofu seem to be gaining popularity amongst our clientele.” Keeping this in mind, the brand is also launching a health-focused menu in mid-2021. Expect healthy options infused with Chinese herbs such as ginseng! Companies such as Impossible Foods might soon be providing their products in India and restaurateurs like Tham plan to create some dishes with these plant-based meat substitutes in the future.

Many new distinct retail products are being introduced to the plant-based, vegan, environmentally friendly markets of India. Sameer Uttamsingh, founder, Acme Hospitality and co-founder Bun & Only says that a number of restaurants and delivery kitchens too are stepping up and introducing plant-based dishes on their menu. Last year, the brand launched Atom Box, which includes plant-based dishes such as zucchini pad Thai, Thai curry laksa and vegan toona poke bowl (made with dehydrated watermelon in place of tuna and the mayo is made with soy milk).

SWEET CRAVINGS

There has been a rise in dessert bars and dessert-only restaurants. Due to the popularity of shows like Masterchef and Chef’s Table, there has been an increase in knowledge and intrigue in people about the art of plated desserts. This has brought about a number of pastry chefs creating their own style of presentation. A few examples are, Koi in Australia, Marble Dessert Bar, Jungsik, Chickalicious in NYC, Tickets in Barcelona, room4dessert in Bali, and now Moner in Mumbai, India.

Speaking about the newly launched Moner, which is said to be India’s first and only dessert bar and bistro, founder and Chef Freny Fernandes said, “After visiting a couple of dessert bars in NYC, I was mesmerised by the amount of attention to detail in the plated desserts as well as the magic of creating art on a plate. My visit to Noma inspired me to open a dessert bar with an intimate atmosphere, where I could interact with my guests, explain my creations and my inspiration behind them.”

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