It has to be said that the life of a foodie is anything but mundane. Driven by the discovery of new flavours and innovative riffs on textures, we’re perennially trying to push the gastronomic envelope that much further. The experience is not just limited to dining in avant-garde restaurants though, with the latest trends within reach of our kitchens and daily diets. Gathered here are some of the most noteworthy developments, canvassed from an evolving food scene the world over.
While it’s been all about nut butters for a while now, the spotlight has recently shifted to spreads made from seeds, with tahini in particular becoming the star of every show. Made by crushing sesame seeds (with oil, lemon juice and salt) into a dense paste, this quintessential Middle Eastern ingredient has traditionally featured in all your favourite Levantine recipes from hummus and baba ganoush to being served alongside falafels.
Of course, the beauty of tahini is that its luxuriantly creamy texture can enrich just about anything. Drizzle it on yogurt to dress your next batch of grilled veggies, or over ice cream to impart a dash of nuttiness. Add tahini to sauces, salad dressings and dips and even swirl it into cakes and brownies; not only does this elevate the aesthetics of your baking with striking patterns, it also creates a deliciously toasty flavour!
While there’s no strict definition of artisanal breads, just the term is enough to conjure a picture of artisanal bakers painstakingly handcrafting specialty breads from rye to sourdough. And therein lies the key difference between artisanal and industrially-manufactured breads, which rely on standardised production. Artisanal techniques also have a leaner formulation (think lower sugar and fat levels) and render short shelf-life breads that are best consumed immediately after baking, when they are at their freshest!
With home-grown artisanal bakeries such as Mag Street Kitchen available on home-delivery apps such as Scootsy, upgrading your morning loaf is just a few clicks away. Look out for Suzette’s Bakery opening soon in Bandra too. Promising the likes of sourdough baguettes and puff brioches (a cross between a croissant and a brioche) – we have the feeling that our breakfast will never be the same again!
‘Wonky’ fruits and veg
Think twice before you next discard “ugly” fruit and veg. Our bias against wonky-looking or bruised produce is a key driver of food waste. The ethical considerations aside, the problem is particularly significant from a climate change perspective as well. Which is why, it’s been gratifying to see the emergence of homegrown brands in the West that rescue surplus or seemingly “imperfect” produce from being discarded. The results are as creative as they are delicious, ranging from fruit crisps to “fruit jerky” and dips made with misshapen fruits and veg which would have otherwise gone to waste.
We can do our bit at home too. Leading chocolatier & pâtissier Chef Sanjana Patel of La Folie Boutiques recently shared some inspiration on Instagram:
“My tip this Tuesday is not for making anything new, but for learning how to make the best of waste. Instead of throwing away over-ripe fruit and fruit peels, use them to make something new! To make the best out of your oranges: Use its skin to make candied orange peels or add over-ripe oranges to a saucepan and cook them down to make marmalade 🍊. Add spices and experiment with your fruits, for example, once you are comfortable with the orange marmalade, try making an orange apricot jam.”
Up the ante the next time you feel peckish, with bite-sized treats that add a fancier edge to your snacking game. Stuffed olives, aged mozzarella and truffled parmesan are always a treat for idle hands looking to graze, not to mention that these pantry essentials are perfect for sorting out last-minute hosting emergencies when guests arrive announced!
Of course, if you’re looking to snack on a wellness track, there are healthy options aplenty too, from “skinny” veggie dips to gluten-free energy energy balls packed with superfoods such as chia, date and cacao!
You know your micronutrients from your macronutrients. Macros are the carbs, fats and proteins in your daily diet, while the micros span vitamins and minerals needed in relatively smaller amounts. Well, 2019 has added another nuanced layer to our consciousness — mesonutrients. These active compounds within certain foods directly boost your health, from healing and developing immunity, to detox benefits and antioxidant properties.
Meso itself means middle in Greek, with mesonutrients pointing to the ‘in-between’ nutrients in key superfoods that we may be ignoring. These super compounds can be extracted from their natural foods, such as with curcumin in turmeric; saffronal in the super-spice, saffron; lycopene (the red pigment) in tomatoes and berberines from barberries.
Increase your intake of these all-powerful mesos by amping up consumption of the underlying superfood. A new school of thought also prioritises “meso-dosing,” through supplements (recommended under medical supervision) which retain more of the active compound, thereby having a more direct and amplified impact.
Of course, the more things change, the more they remain the same with India’s ancient art and science of Ayurveda, emerging as a frontrunner on the global wellness scene this year. The holistic way of living, tailored to one’s ‘dosha’ is regaining credence on our home turf too, with gourmet superstore Foodhall running an Ayurveda-led approach to health rooted in key super-spices from their inhouse brand, Arqa, that can be easily added to our daily diet.
Recommended changes are as simple as starting your day with a cooling teaspoon of Gotu Kola mixed with honey. This relaxing herb has the power to open up your crown chakra, alleviate anxieties and improve cognitive functioning. As for winding down at the end of a long day, look out for the stress-busting adoptogen Ashwagandha, which can transform into a luscious moon-milk primed to aid sleeplessness!
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