By Somrita Ghosh
New Delhi, Dec 31: Sipping a oreo chocolate shake accompanied by a thick chicken patty smashed between buns or experimenting with the flavours of Indian regional cuisine -- a culinary visit to any eat-out remained incomplete without the "foodporn" and "foodgasm" hashtags, making 2016 a tummy-blessed foodilicious year.
The café culture saw a rise this year. Take Illiterati Café at Mcleodganj in Dharamshala which is turning out to be quite a popular spot amongst tourists. Prithvi Café in Mumbai and Biker's Café, Tyre Patty and Cafe4 in Kolkata are turning out to be some of the favourite hang-outs of the youth.
In the national capital, Satya Niketan, Greater Kailash and Rajiv Chowk -- still called Connaught Place by diehard fans -- remained favourite cafe destinations.
Presentation is playing an important place when it comes to praising a dish. Mason jars and bulbs are turning quite a unique way of serving shakes and juices in places.
A trend that has been running across restaurants is amalgamation of science with food, especially molecular gastronomy.
"With the rise of molecular gastronomy in the food category, the beverages have also seen a spike in molecular mixology and craft cocktails. These practices have given autonomy to the bartenders to create drinks with differentiation like smoked cocktails, foams, torched and scratched drinks etc," Riyaz Amlani, President, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) told IANS.
Some trendsetters in this category are Farzi Café, Soda Bottle Opener Wala, The Molecule Air Bar that have been drawing a lot attention with dishes like "Molecule - dragon smoke popcorn" or popcorn mixed with Maggi tastemaker and infused with liquid nitrogen. The outcome? Thick smoke emerging from the mouth and nostril when popped inside.
The use of organic and local vegetables remained a key focus this year.
"It was great to give a nod to local farmers and artisans and present to our diners the local produce. Thumbs up for reducing the carbon footprint," Abhishek Basu, Executive Chef, F&B Production, The Park, told IANS.
Basu also pointed to kitchen garden salads, buddha bowls, seafood and local meats also becoming popular.
For Chef Achal Aggarwal, Executive Chef at the Hilton, Chennai, the year saw modern and contemporary food when chefs has experimented a lot with new styles, like blending Western and Asian foods with Indian flavours.
"With chefs, foodies and restaurateurs all experimenting with regional cuisine, dishes are slowly making their way into mainstream dining. Some of the restaurants that are promoting regional cuisine are Mahabelly, The Toddy Shop, Bombay Canteen and The Potbelly (in the national capital)," Amlani further added.
Revival of old recipes, regional cooking, demand for authentic international cuisine such as Italian, Korean, Japanese and French are the rise. Craft Beer is now becoming more discerning and there is a rise in demand for more flavours and different kinds of beer.
And, not to forget -- the social media remained an integral part for all food lovers. Hashtags like "foodlover", "foodporn", "foodgasm", "foodie", "nomnom" and "dindin ruled the Instagram dictionary.
Some of the emerging trends that will rule the gastronomic world in the coming months are virtual kitchens, home chef aggregators and the Food Truck, ubiquitous in the West but quite nascent in India.
"The coming year will be for authentic food from the hidden kitchens of India which will become trademark in the culinary world," Aggarwal pointed out.
Technology will also play a pivotal role in the gastronomic world in future with online orders and quick home-deliveries.
"Today customers can use their smart-phones to order food from any restaurant of their choice and get it delivered. Apart from easy ordering through websites and mobiles, the big discounts offered by these players have held the industry in good stead," Amlani noted.
And for those who mind putting in some extra kilos and opted for healthy food diets, pitapit breads, Mediterranean diet and consumption of wholegrains has seen a rise.
Chef Basu too noted that wellness tonics or shots will rule the kitchens in the coming years as people turn more and more health conscious.
Update: 31 Dec, 2016