Here’s what’ll tickle your palette in 2018

NEW DELHI: As the New Year is on us, there seems to be an emphasis on back-to-the-basics and healthy gluten-free products. There’ll be a resurgence of superfoods, the emergence of a ‘Better for You’ category of foods and even ingredients like seaweeds. Mixology will take on a whole new complexion.

Chef Shivan Khanna, Executive Sous Chef, The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, lists his trends for 2018:

* Increased demand for hyper-local ingredients – guests are keen to try dishes which are made from locally-sourced ingredients because they help achieve superior taste quality, they benefit society at large and are also a sustainable method of procurement.

* Increased focus on health and wellness — there is a growing demand for gluten-free products and peop’e’s desire to cut back on white carbs is changing the way recipes are now being crafted.

* Resurgence of superfood — This trend also finds its way back to the increased focus on health and wellness. People want to consume more and more foods such as carobs or millets which are potent and packed with nutritional benefits.

* Emergence of ‘Better for You’ category of foods. In today’s environmentally conscious world, guests are looking for products which are neither harmful to the environment nor to their individual selves. This category includes ingredients which are cage free, pesticide free, free-range dairy products and the like

* Focus on plant-based protein – there has been a surge in vegetarianism over the past few years. As a result, there is now more interest in food made with plant-based proteins. Chefs are embracing ingredients such as tofu, quinoa, and tempeh (made using soy)

* More advanced methods of mixology – cocktails will see their own set of trends in 2018. We are expecting there to be an increased use of fresh ingredients and homemade mixes, as well as use of different methods of cocktail preparation like smoking and grilling. There is also expected to be a shift from to more flavorful spirits that have greater character like bourbon and rum

For Achal Aggarwal, Executive Chef, Hilton Chennai, the accent will be on green tea and pop-up restaurants

* Hotels may start serving green tea made with leaves. What we get is tea dust.

* Many dishes will have green tea as an ingredient owing to its health benefits.

* Star hotels may go for pop-up restaurants (restaurants that would change its cuisine every month – say Chinese one month, Indian the next and so on). Five star hotels have the infrastructure and manpower for this.

* Hotels will have more live counters as part of their buffet. Two benefits — it gives the customers the satisfaction of having freshly cooked food and hotels in turn can cut waste.

* Vegetarianism will gain further ground amongst people.

* Demand for exotic vegetables and dishes made with such vegetables would go up.

Chef Mangesh Hinge of Chevon had a rather different take.

* Seaweed: Seaweed is low in calories and is filled with nutrients, you can buy packaged seaweed and enjoy with your favorite dish.

* Goat meat, since it is much leaner than chicken and is lower in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. A 100-gram portion of goat meat has about 122 calories, which is considerably less than pork’s 179 and chicken’s 162.

* Floral flavours: Edible petals is the upcoming trend which is making its way to common people’s kitchen from the high-end eateries. When infused in or cocktails, they have implausible health benefits, lowering high blood pressure, easing stomach aches, and potential to aid in weight loss.