Goodbye kale, hello moringa
Unbeknownst to the mamis of Mylapore, an old South Indian specialty has transformed into a new superfood. The humble murrungakai, or moringa as the West knows it, looks set to be the toast of 2016. From organic stores in London to natural food marts in New York City, moringa leaves and pods are all the rage. Sambar-loving Indians know that this is a staple ingredient in it and vegetarian Bengalis (okay, we’re kidding) love their Shojne Data Dal (moringa with lentils), but what we don’t know is that its fragrant seeds and tangy leaves are bursting with vitamins. Moringa has more Vitamin C packed in it than an orange, more calcium than in your daily glass of milk, and more vitamin A than carrots. Move over kale, it’s time for a moringa sauté salad.
Not Really Indian, by Atul Kochhar, Mumbai
Back in 2001, when chef Atul Kochhar first heard that he had won a Michelin star for his work at the Tamarind, in London, he thought someone way playing a prank on him. Since then, Kochhar has come a long way, by way of Varanasi (London and Madrid); Rang Mahal (Dubai) and Indian Essence (Kent), among other sterling ventures. In January, Kochhar unites the Indian diaspora’s memory, longing and the desire for acculturation at his all new NRI (Not Really Indian) restaurant, at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. Dishes on the menu will include Roti Canai, Caribbean goat curry, East African Zeera chicken and the South Afrian Bunny Chow. “NRI will star dishes that Indian immigrants took with them to far corners of the British empire, adapting the recipes to locally available ingredients. Each dish has a beautiful story, and I believe it’s a good time to bring them home,” says Kochhar.
Gaggan Anand’s India debut, Mumbai
In the works for a little over a year now, Thailand-based chef Gaggan Anand’s Mumbai outpost is definitely one of the most anticipated launches of this year. Anand promises that the fare at the restaurant will be nothing like India has had on offer. We last heard that it will be helmed by Garima Arora, who was formerly chef de partie at Noma, the buzzed-about Michelin-star restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nostalgia will be the most widely used ingredient in professional kitchens around the country this year as chefs will look to recreate both family recipes and memories of our childhood and yours. Keep an eye out for heirloom dishes, forgotten foods and regional secrets mushrooming across menus.
Between the bamboos
And speaking of mushrooms, expect plenty of ingredients from the North East, specially the aforementioned fungi. The seven sisters are home to more than two-thirds of the total biodiversity in the country and that means a cornucopia of ingredients that aren’t available anywhere else in India. It also helps that they are delicious.
Local, Local, Local
That seems to be the mantra for restaurants to fill up their tables as more and more chefs are turning to their own backyards rather than look East or West for their produce. And while chefs aren’t exactly going out with a bow and arrow for their main course yet, they are increasingly growing their own herbs and greens, micro or otherwise. Meaning garnishes promise to be a lot more interesting as well.
The repackaging on Indian food
Indian food being repackaged is possibly going to be one of the biggest food trends in 2016, according to Manu Chandra, Chef-Partner, the Fatty Bao and Monkey Bar, and Executive Chef, Olive Beach, Bangalore. While this trend has been gaining ground in the last couple of years, 2016 could be the year it really comes to the fore. “We are seeing regional cuisines, stepping out of the ambit of geographical constraints, becoming prominent in newer Indian restaurants, across the country.” He cites the example of pandi curry, long considered a South Indian dish, native to Coorg. “When we opened Monkey Bar in Delhi, we put pandi curry on the menu and it was an instant hit.” The usual trend of a tomato-onion gravy or a cashew gravy will be repackaged and served in a different way.
Over the last five-odd years, America has rediscovered rye whiskey, and the rennaissance is being powered by both big brands as well as boutique distillers across the US. Rye and America go back a long way, and it was, possibly, among the many drinks the First Settlers slaked their thirst with, and the whiskey, which formed the base for iconic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Sazerac, was a big saloon favourite until Prohibition knocked it off the radar. The renewed interest in rye whiskey has a lot to do with bartenders and barflies rediscovering its spicy mixability, and, with well-aged ryes, its surprisingly smooth character that lends itself to sipping. We’ve got two American whiskey majors here — Brown-Foreman, which owns Jack Daniel’s, has the excellent Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey in its portfolio, and Jim Beam has its own rye offering. And, even if these two take their time getting their rye whiskies to India, we expect smart bartenders across our metros to latch on to a burgeoning trend.
Nimisserie, on Brigade Road, is the city’s latest culinary offering. And, the man behind it, Nimish Bhatia is famous for his degustation menus and thande kababs. Nimisserie’s seven, nine and 11-course degustation menu features intriguing dishes such as Reconstructed Chilled Samosa with chooran bubble and hibiscus dust, Smoked Young Chicken Breasts and Argula, with marigold flowers, basil and dehydrated pineapple. Equally interesting are the gold-crusted free-range sous vide Australian lamb chop, with mix petals and the Nihari sauce and Red beet relish.