Over the past few years, the way we perceive food has changed drastically. Today, family dinner outings aren’t simply about going to a restaurant and ordering your favourite dishes.Technology, evolving lifestyle trends and innovations have revolutionised the A-Z experience of food. From homecooks to molecular gastronomy , Mumbaikars are exploring newer dimensions of the culinary world.Here’s what’s trending…
QUIT COOKBOOKS, GO FOR READY-TO-COOK MEAL KITS
Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel in her popular television show Friends once said, “Cooking is easy . Just follow the recipe. If it says boil two cups of salt, then boil two cups of salt.“ Rachels of the world can now breathe easy as cooking for dummies has become simpler with ready-to-cook meal kits that contain pre-portioned ingre dients with simple recipe cards. All one needs to do is follow the instructions and since the boxes come with the right por tions of each ingredient, the risk of get ting it wrong is considerably reduced.
Since most of these meals are put together by professional chefs, the recipes are fool proof and ensure a lip-smacking dish! These are time-saving, healthy and great for working people, who want to cook a quick meal for friends and family .
HOMECOOKS ARE IN VOGUE
For a city like Mumbai, homecooks are a natural resort. Their food is preferred by young working professionals who live alone and crave for homely meals as restaurant eating is neither healthy nor feasible on their pockets.Food enthusiasts are now tapping into the idea of homecooks and aggregating them on their platform and then reaching out to people via mobile apps and websites. Most of them curate homechefs -amateur as well as professional cooks. Unlike dabbawallahs, these pocket restaurants serve food that is better packaged, fresher and healthier. They are low on spice and oil and provide more variety .Homecooks also make specific diet food for people of different age groups. Be it proteinheavy meals for those who work out or a balanced plate for people hoping to shed a few extra pounds; one can pick what suits their palate and need. Saurabh Bharadwaj, owner of a homecook start-up says, “We have a bunch of chefs delivering different dishes to us every single day of the week. They submit a collated list of the recipes they will cooking a day before the week begins. We have a tast ing expert on board, who gives us regular feedback on chefs and their cooking. We also have a feedback button on every order that is placed from our app or site. A few years ago, it was all about fast food but now it is more about healthier food and homecooks are definitely growing in number.“
FOOD PORN IN THE SMARTPHONE ERA
The digital age has infused a new breath of energy into culinary culture all around the world. Local food bloggers are increasingly using social media apps to reach out to gluttons and gourmands across the city . But what has changed most significantly is the language of these bloggers. Today , food blogs are more pictorial and not verbose, focussing mostly on what is popularly known as food porn. Because of smartphones, we are consumed by the tendency of clicking pictures of food that catch our fancy and instantly post them on social media.Food bloggers do the same -they go from restaurant to restaurant, click tempting pictures of decadent dishes and desserts and post it on their photo-blogging sites. “Food is the best way to leave behind the drudgery of one’s mundane life and the whole idea is to brighten people’s day with good-looking items. Today , there is certain reverence towards food and so we are careful to not post anything negative about any restaurant. We need to make sure that our pictures look nice before we go on to talk about the taste.These social media platforms are giving more importance to the visual appearance of food, over its flavour,“ says food blogger Ronak Rajani.
TECH-ING UP REGULAR RECIPES
Want to challenge your taste buds? Nowadays, restaurants in the city are redefining tra ditional recipes using molecu lar gastronomy, one of the most popular culinary trends in the world. Modern food entrepreneurs are combining their fascination for chemical reactions and science with cooking, to form newer tastes and textures. While some five star restaurants have had these `lab kitchens’ for some time, today , more and more eating joints are using cut ting-edge scientific tech niques to serve preparations like pav bhaji fondue, foam gaajar ka halwa, soap cakes, paan candy floss etc. Some are also using liquid nitrogen and dry ice to create items like snow dhoklas, bubbling kulfis and chai ice-creams!
OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK DINING OPTIONS
Instead of regular restaurants, Mumbaikars are stepping out to eat in alternative venues and spaces to get a taste of carefully-crafted cuisine. On the top of the list are home kitchens where food connoisseurs are dishing out community dining experiences. The Kapadias, a Colaba-based family, opens up their home every weekend to a small set of peo ple and serves them an authentic six course Bohri meal, which includes delica cies like Karamra (dessert made from rice, curd, nuts and pomegranates) and mutton undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish with meat).Another example is of Juhu-based Gitika Saikia; she serves rare tribal Assamese food in the city. Foodies can get a taste of recipes made from silkworms and red ant eggs! Also hot on heels are food trucks. These mobile eateries that have sprung up all over the city serve a variety of street foods like burritos, kathi rolls, kebab, cupcakes etc., and cater to those people who want to gorge on junk food, but without compromising on the hygiene factor.
A MASH-UP OF FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
An interactive play in the city has actors cooking up a three-course meal and serving it to the members of the audience! Called supper theatre, the idea is to watch a show over food and drink and enhance the level of relaxation.