New year, new trends. While 2023 had a lot going on with millets, 2024 will be sure to carry on the legacy of these humble grains but of course will also have a lot of novel ideas in store for the food and beverage sector. And since we are only in the mid of January, we decided to piece together our own forecast and figure out what will be the most trending topics in the Indian food landscape this year. With help of culinary mavericks Manish Mehrotra, Pooja Dhingra, Hussain Shahzad and Gresham Fernandes we delve into the insights shared by these as they offer an enlightened glimpse into the evolving landscape of the food and beverage sector. From the resurgence of timeless classics to the emergence of groundbreaking trends, these culinary maestros share their perspectives on the exciting trajectory that awaits in the ever-evolving world of gastronomy.
Edited excerpts from the interviews.
Chef Manish Mehrotra
What food trend according to you is going to rule the food and beverage space in 2024? In the context of India, one notable and rising trend is the popularity of remote destination dining, where individuals seek out unique and picturesque locations for exceptional dining experiences, reminiscent of establishments like Prateek Sadhu's Naar in Kasauli. Another burgeoning trend is the surge in flashy bakeries, driven by chefs who hone their skills abroad and return to India to establish innovative and enticing bakeries. In the realm of restaurant menus, childhood favourites will make a resounding comeback. Iconic dishes like malai kofta and other classics, which seemingly disappeared for a while, are set to reappear in refreshed avatars. As for bars, anticipate an exciting fusion of gastronomy and mixology, with a spotlight on inventive and flavourful cocktails—think bacon-infused negronis and concoctions made with popular kitchen ingredients and unique garnishes. With an increasing desire to explore new flavours without committing to larger quantities, smaller portions, bite-sized snacks and petite delights are set to become the epitome of culinary experimentation in 2024.
Day by day we are made aware of certain ingredients gaining immense popularity amongst the crowd, for instance last year was the year of millets. Can you share any emerging or lesser-known ingredients that you believe will gain popularity in 2024? While 2024 will definitely shine a spotlight on various varieties of grains, I believe one grain or ingredient that you should watch out for is buckwheat, or kuttu ka atta as we call it colloquially.
Sustainability continues to be a significant focus in the culinary world. How do you see the emphasis on sustainability evolving in 2024? While sustainability is still the buzzword, in 2024, we're moving towards ‘sensible sustainability’. It's no longer just about growing your food in any region that is considered close or local, without paying mind to the specifics that are required for a good and organic yield for that produce, because that’s not the sensible way to do it. Sure, establishments can still procure their ingredients locally, but only when it actually makes sense. No more doing it just for the trend, it's all about being smart and sensibly sustainable.
Left- Chef Manish Mehrotra | Right- Chef Hussain Shahzad
Chef Hussain Shahzad
What food trend according to you is going to rule the food and beverage space in 2024? Well, I think in 2024 most food trends are going to revolve around two factors. Diners will tap into the potential of approachable fine-dining experiences, where the landscape of fine dining is undergoing a transformative shift, with a notable trend towards creating a more approachable and relaxed dining experience with innovative menus, open kitchen concepts, collaborations, pop-up events, and an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. Another interesting factor is cultural and culinary exploration, as India is known for its rich cultural tapestry and diverse regional cuisines. To tap into this trend, live cooking stations or chef’s tables would allow guests to witness the preparation process, learn about the ingredients, and engage with chefs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the food.
Day by day we are made aware of certain ingredients gaining immense popularity amongst the crowd, for instance last year was the year of millets. Can you share any emerging or lesser-known ingredients that you believe will gain popularity in 2024? In the culinary landscape of 2024, there is a noticeable trend where ingredients indigenous to specific regional diversities are taking centre stage. This is exemplified by Odisha’s culinary gem, Kai Chutney, a condiment made with red weaver ants, which has recently earned the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Moreover, the culinary world is witnessing a refreshing shift towards embracing lesser-known varieties of rice and lentils, with many of them securing coveted GI tags. India boasts a rich tapestry of rice varieties beyond the mainstream options. It’s high time that these hidden gems receive the attention they deserve. These lesser-known rice varieties not only contribute unique textures and flavours to dishes but also play a crucial role in preserving the agricultural biodiversity of the region.
Sustainability continues to be a significant focus in the culinary world. How do you see the emphasis on sustainability evolving in 2024? In the Indian food industry, sustainability is gaining attention, yet we find ourselves in the early stages of fostering awareness. While recognizing the importance of making informed choices, it’s evident that our ecosystem is not fully conducive to complete sustainability. The industry is taking steps, but we must acknowledge that there’s a journey ahead before we can claim to be fully sustainable.
Chef Pooja Dhingra
What food trend according to you is going to rule the food and beverage space in 2024? If you talk about food trends, it could be a number of things, given the fact that everyday there is something new popping up on the internet. However in the pastry scene specifically, I would say that there is a rising demand for indulgent yet wholesome, health-conscious desserts. Be it vegan, gluten-free or refined-sugar-free, the end result remains that whole foods are the talk of the pastry scene.
Day by day we are made aware of certain ingredients gaining immense popularity amongst the crowd, for instance last year was the year of millets. Can you share any emerging or lesser-known ingredients that you believe will gain popularity in 2024? While it would be difficult to pinpoint one ingredient that will be all the rage, generally speaking, I feel there has been an increase in appreciation and focus on regional and traditional Indian cuisine, and I believe regional Indian vegetables and grains will continue to gain popularity in 2024.
Sustainability continues to be a significant focus in the culinary world. How do you see the emphasis on sustainability evolving in 2024? While the industry does take certain steps to be sustainable, I definitely feel eating more sustainably will be a significant part of the food scene, with a greater emphasis on practices like locally sourcing ingredients, minimising food waste, as well as investing in eco-friendly packaging.
Left- Chef Pooja Dhingra | Right- Chef Gresham Fernandes
Chef Gresham Fernandes
What food trend according to you is going to rule the food and beverage space in 2024? I am not really an avid believer in food trends, because it then gives the notion that these trends are here only for a short period of time. Personally I feel, a lot of what's considered trendy these days has been cooking for the last 2-5 years. When I think about food trends, I like thinking long-term and I'm all about this idea of generational culinary education, where we learn from our folks and pick up on their cooking wisdom. I believe it is this fundamental knowledge that will further give rise to unique ideas while also contributing to our well-being. Another idea that can be considered as a rising trend is exploring cuisines from regions that haven't hit the commercial spotlight yet. I'm talking about diving into the tribal cuisine of remote forest areas—understanding the hows and whys behind their culinary traditions. That's the real deal, and I think it's going to make waves.
Day by day we are made aware of certain ingredients gaining immense popularity amongst the crowd, for instance last year was the year of millets. Can you share any emerging or lesser-known ingredients that you believe will gain popularity in 2024? The thing is there is a rise in the popularity of lesser-known ingredients, mainly because they've been under the radar. While these might be unfamiliar to us in urban settings, they're often staples in villages and tribal communities. Take, for example, the cactus fruit—I'm not sure what it's called generally—while it might be new to us, tribal folks have been incorporating it into their diets for generations. And while it is always possible to bring these ingredients to the city by promoting their numerous benefits, here's the catch: we run the risk of creating an oversupply, disrupting the balance in our food security. That's not the goal here. So, like I mentioned earlier, it boils down to tapping into our ancestral culinary wisdom, understanding food at its core and figuring out what works for our terroir and our bodies. I'm predicting a spotlight on cooking methods too, like getting creative with a single ingredient in multiple ways. It's all about making the most of what we've got and keeping things interesting in the kitchen!
Sustainability continues to be a significant focus in the culinary world. How do you see the emphasis on sustainability evolving in 2024? Achieving holistic sustainability within an urban establishment is a challenge in itself. For true sustainability, it's essential that various industries, not just hospitality, embrace this responsibility. From ingredient sourcing to the intricate logistics involved, every aspect plays a pivotal role. While we've made strides, such as cooking in smaller quantities to minimise waste, the burden can't rest solely on the hospitality sector. One game-changer could be if food delivery aggregators explored the untapped potential of renewable resources. Imagine if delivery personnel utilised vehicles powered by solar energy—this alone could significantly slash the carbon footprint. It's about collective efforts across industries to create a sustainable and eco-friendly future.
Natasha Kittur is an aspiring writer. Her love for anything with cheese and spice is profound, but a white sauce pasta always tops her list. In her free time you will catch her reading or watching crime books and shows or go on and on about psychological experiments and theories. She aims to write a book in the fictional genre someday.