There is no denying that the food scene in India and the world is on an all-time high, making it a very exciting space to be in. I’ve been in the industry for more than three decades, but the dynamic of the industry has got a whole new vibe in the past 5-7 years. The best part is that a lot of these trends are aimed at improving health, lifestyle and the environment. Keeping up with the millennial times, many of them are technology driven. Here are my two cents on trends that have impacted the food scene in India.

Smart tech takeover

With the advent of smartphones, we’re bringing the “smart” trend into almost every walk of our life. It is inevitable that we look at food through a different lens too—quite literally!  I personally am a big fan of gadgets and technology. So using it in the food space excites me. In the past few years, we saw the rise of some great new concepts which marry food and technology to make the best of both. This has been done in the form of gadgets, applications, startups, digitalised KoT’s, electronic food vending machines and many more. The most impactful however has been social media because it has played a huge role in encouraging the “discussion about food”.  It has helped bring people closer and build communities around common topics—food being a hot favourite. The rampant popularity of these has made it very important for chefs, to use these digital platforms to remain relevant.

Eating out options

The millennial generation has also redefined the concept of “eating out”. Now it doesn’t just mean going out for a good meal with friends and family. These days it’s more about networking, socialising have an overall enjoyable time. The great news is that the new crop of restaurateurs and chefs are catering to this demand brilliantly. They are pushing the creative boundaries with new trendier concepts to give guests a more exciting dining experience. The menu at such places is usually more fusion and experimental with either small plates of individually portioned food or large sharing platters. The staff and vibe is casual and friendly. Pop up kitchens and restaurants with live gigs for performing arts ranging from standup comedy to slam poetry—work around the same concept and have been quite the rage this year.

Food delivery and more

Another significant trend is food delivery, it is definitely not what it used to be a few years ago. There is now a clear distinction between the food served while dining in at a restaurant and what is delivered home. You have specialized home delivery menus with precise portion sizes and affordable prices. The advent of food delivery apps has made things easier than ever. With people ordering in so often these days the whole idea has become to replace ghar ka khana. Many housewives and home chefs have succeeded in making a great business model out of this. Concepts like “delivery only” cloud kitchens are something to look forward to in the near future. Capital expenditure is much less since you just need to set up a restaurant kitchen and not an entire functional dine-in restaurant. As long as you maintain quality, consistency and affordability, you can assure business by tying up with one or more of these delivery platforms.

Meal kits  

The food delivery model has indeed scaled new heights, but it’s not just cooked meals that are being delivered at home. Meal kits are the latest new trend to hit the delivery market because it is perfectly suited for the busy lifestyle we lead today.  Where maintaining the balance between eating home cooked food and finding the time to shop for the ingredients is something we all struggle with. These meal boxes come in handy, by giving you neatly packaged, fresh, perfectly measured ingredients along with simple recipe cards to use them. All you have to do is follow packet instructions and cook a healthy meal for you and your family—without toiling in the kitchen. It is a concept which is definitely something to look forward to in the near future.

Ayurveda and ancient Indian superfoods

While we speak of a bright future, people are realizing it is only possible if we take inspiration from our illustrious past. Turmeric Latte – what we know as good old haldiwala doodh was one of the biggest International food trends in 17-18 and is now popular amongst millennials in India too. The bar for the superfood trend too has been raised a notch higher with superfood powders ranging from dried berries, veggie and fruit powders to ones like chia, flax and cacao seed powders and organic super mixes of them all. Ayurvedic ingredients like haldi and ashwagandha too are a part of this superfood powder brigade. Also, ghee—the world is just discovering what a fabulous, nutritious and flavourful cooking medium it is. Age old Indian grains like bajranachni and unpolished varieties of rice are quickly gaining global recognition. From restaurant giants to food bloggers—everybody is jumping in and benefiting from our age-old desi nuskhas!  Indian food and ingredients have always been highly valued and appreciated by the world.

Health as a lifestyle

Health is definitely going to be on everybody’s mind when it comes to making food choices. This is partly because people have become more aware about what they put into their systems. We are reading food labels more carefully and understanding our bodies better. It’s the reason why Keto, Paleo-friendly and gluten-free meals have moved from being just fad diets to a dedicated lifestyle. It is like a chain effect because of other parallel fitness/health trends which promote the importance of a diet for a healthy lifestyle, and that is just brilliant!

The writer is a noted celebrity chef, entrepreneur and television personality