What will we be eating more of this year? Which cuisines will become popular? What are the top 2023 food trends? From viral desserts to ingredient-driven menus and drinks, regional Indian cuisine gaining traction, and an increase in communal dining and immersive formats—booming India’s culinary industry is continuously developing, and the discerning Indian consumer is ready to embrace it. We chat with experienced chefs, restaurateurs, and food innovators to highlight the top food trends of 2023 that are taking shape and the ones to look out for this year.
We’re reclaiming Indian food in new and exciting ways.
This year will be centred on highlighting regional Indian food and presenting it in a more refined form. Not only that, but heirloom, indigenous foods, such as ancient grains and millets, as well as lesser-known delicacies like thangnyer or yellow Himalayan chillies, tree tomatoes, black garlic, and kaitha or elephant apple, are rapidly making their way into restaurant menus. Millets will be popular this year, so seek for indigenous variations in everything from packaged meals to local-inspired cuisines.
According to Yash Bhanage, CEO and COO of Hunger Inc. Hospitality, which operates restaurants such as The Bombay Canteen, one of the trends emerging this year is how Indian food is becoming more sophisticated while remaining approachable. Customers nowadays are more well-traveled and know what to expect, he adds, citing some of the new items on The Bombay Canteen’s menu as instances of regional cuisine blending with contemporary influences. Consider black carrot koftas in a Mughlai rezala from Calcutta, stir-fried morning glory with pav miso, and undhiyu okonomiyaki.
Menus inspired by nostalgia and personalised catering are on the increase.
Customers are demonstrating a desire to be more flexible and adventurous with their meals, according to chef Manu Chandra of Manu Chandra Ventures, which also operates Bengaluru-based Single Thread Catering. Customers are increasingly asking for menus with a vintage feel to them. Last year, for example, we hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with our take on famous dishes from some of Bengaluru’s most prominent eateries. Pre-plated sit-down meals are becoming increasingly popular. Even when entertaining at home, he observes, people prefer tailored, catered meals for smaller gatherings.
Chefs are increasingly embracing a zero-waste approach to food, whether it’s utilising smaller portions of meat or a root-to-fruit strategy to using produce, according to Chandra.
Ferments and vinegars will become trendy terms.
2022 was the year of sourdough, kimchi, and kombucha, and this year will be no different when it comes to fermenting. Mold-based ferments, such as koji or miso, would be popular, especially those prepared with hyper-local Indian ingredients, according to chef Vanika Choudhary, proprietor of Mumbai eateries Noon and Sequel.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of lacto-based ferments but there is a trend going towards mould ferments. People are reinterpreting foreign elements with native ones to produce these, which is interesting.” Vinegars with locally sourced ingredients will also be popular to offer that extra layer of umami.
Plant-based innovation, like sustainable food, is here to stay.
There has been a flurry of plant-based food innovation, which is likely to continue beyond 2023. Those trying to embrace more sustainable lives, according to Krish Ashok, author of Masala Lab: The Science of Indian Cooking, are looking for plant-based alternatives that approximate comparable flavour profiles and textures of their meat-based counterparts.
“There is some innovation happening in the high-end area of plant-based products,” says Ashok, adding that the majority of items on the market are oriented toward conventional meat consumers and even those searching for high-quality protein sources. Similarly, individuals are becoming more sustainable in how they use resources in their kitchens, whether it’s through minimising water waste or getting closer to nature.
The art of mixing has been enhanced.
Technique-forward cocktails, utilising methods that extract more flavour, will be trendy this year, according to famous mixologist Yangdup Lama, who owns the famed Delhi-based bar Sidecar. “Storytelling via beverages and making use of local, native ingredients is also a popular trend that’s rising, so you’ll find numerous bars advocating this. Consider vetiver root and sea buckthorn as components.
Zero-proof drinks and low-ABV cocktails are also gaining popularity. The negroni drink has grown in popularity and will continue to do so, according to Lama. Aside from gin, whisky will witness a lot of experimentation, and customers will be willing to try new flavours. Tequila and mezcal are also gaining popularity, he says.
Another intriguing trend mentioned by Chandra is how the kitchen and bar of a restaurant are working together more smoothly to use foods and exhibit them with flair. There are various ways the two are collaborating to be more sustainable, ranging from fermented pineapple peels to coffee grounds.