The good lesson that has come out of the pandemic and lockdown is that people have become conscious of eating clean, fresh and local food. While many people have taken to growing their own food, others without access to space have started choosing sustainable produce.
For a country that has grown up on Ayurveda and its principles, there has been a surge in eating right. Covid-19 has also created a lot more awareness for healthy and immunity boosting food not only for the body but for the mind as well. Nutrition and Immunity of body and mind is the focus. “Probiotic foods have a great demand as are foods that are pesticide-free.”
People are more cautious in consuming foods, that is they are more certain in knowing the source of the produce from which their food dishes are prepared. People are getting back to the roots for example turmeric milk, kadha, besan ka sheera and halwas. Clarified butter and dried fruits are incorporated in the dishes and zero-waste recipes are being introduced thus using the peels, seeds and flesh /pulp of the vegetables and fruits to reduce the wastage,” says Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji, Culinary Expert and Chef Consultant.
Indian Cuisine has traditionally emphasised on freshly prepared meals with spices that are known to keep cold and cough at bay. Traditional and regional recipes and cooking methods are also seeing a huge revival. Using ingredients like Ice-Apple (Tadgola). Shakarkandi (Sweet Potatoes), Laal Math (Red Amaranth Leaves) and other local and seasonal vegetables and fruits is now becoming a norm. Even traditional drinks like Neera, Tender Coconut Water, Sol Kadhi, Chaas, Lassi and Thandai are replacing aerated beverages. The concept of eating what is seasonal probably is more important now than ever before and restaurants have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. It also helps that India with its amazing food diversity has specific foods that make their appearance every season, making it easy to choose them.
The concept of eating what is seasonal probably is more important now than ever before and restaurants have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Eating healthy and organic food has made people become more open to experimenting with their palette. Chefs in hotels and restaurants are now replacing imported ingredients with a similar or contrasting local ingredient, without hindering the quality or nature of the product.
Chef Sombir Choudhary, Chef Partner, Jamming Goat, Goa, Culinary Partner and Chef consultant in many restaurants says, “We look at seasonality, locality and foraging and with local ingredients, vegetables sourced locally have more energy as opposed to the vegetables that are shipped in. They also have better flavours, colours, textures and gives an option to eschew products that need to be flown in from various parts of the globe, which in turn reduces the food miles.”
The love for local enhances food sustainability in multiple dimensions. Many restaurants, including ours, now prefer organic locally grown produce as opposed to imported alternatives. Suvaranjan Banerjee, Executive Chef, Grand Mercure Bengaluru explains, “I would think that the most significant is a growing consciousness towards local communities. For most people, it is not just about experiencing the local flavours, it is more about creating awareness and supporting the small businesses closer to us. In fact, taking a step forward, Grand Mercure Bengaluru Gopalan Mall has the concept of lost recipes, focusing on bringing guests a collection of recipes from across the state that have been lost in the so-called commercial transition. Local is the new organic and it is here to stay for long. While the dynamics of food are veering towards all things good, it is a win win for all as you are after all what you eat.
Sustain & Grow
Sustainability is the key driver of this change. “As people look for ways to bounce back greener and cleaner post pandemic, there is more emphasis on a zero emissions future. Sustainability is the key, the more we realise the better it’s going to serve us; it has taken over the food industry. People have become more aware and conscious of the environment, which reflects in their food choices. Now, more environment friendly products are entertained; brands that offer environmentally sustainable offers & services have become the choice of the guest,” says Chef Nitish, Executive Sous Chef, Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel. The focus on indigenous ingredients has also increased considerably and restaurants are also graduating towards ‘Farm to Table’, by growing their own microgreens and hydroponic vegetables. The farm-to-fork concept has brought energy efficiency by using the shortest path where food sourcing from local farmers and the most cost-efficient routes in the supply chain ensure you leave a small carbon footprint.
Probiotic foods have a great demand as are foods that are pesticide-free. People are more cautious in consuming foods, that is they are more certain in knowing the source of the produce from which their food dishes are prepared
— Reetu Uday Kugaji, Chef