HYDERABAD: The pandemic has re-fashioned our food choices — we are mindful of what we eat, and realise that food is medicine. Most chefs and the food bloggers in the city opine that we are likely to get back to our ancestral roots when it comes to our food consumption choices. This means, eating unrefined, unprocessed and organic food.
We are also likely to indulge in the art of cooking and savouring authentic cuisines, while being nutrient- and calorie-conscious. The task of the master chefs this year is to make healthy foods all the more delectable.
CE speaks to some prominent chefs, food bloggers and restaurateurs in the city, who explain why foods such as millets, lentils, quinoa, seeds and nuts, and unrefined grains such as black and brown rice are likely to emerge as a bigger trend this year. They also speak about the revival of authentic recipes at local eateries and other food trends.
We have all been marinating, fermenting, smoking and freezing foods. But, restaurants and home chefs in the city are experimenting with molecular gastronomy which involves emulsification, spherification, gelification, deconstruction and sous vide techniques to give food a different flavour, texture and aroma. “Most experiments are being carried out in new restaurants that are trying to come up with signature menus. Also, restaurants that maintain a changing menu are constantly experimenting with these techniques. Gastronomy is particularly practised in bakeries that do not use refined flour. It helps chefs with culinary innovation. This way, they are also better able to reproduce favoured effects,” says Zubair Ali, a city-based food blogger.
The vegan way
Practising veganism was difficult until a few years ago. It involved searching for a supermarket that sells vegan options. Then came the tedious process of cooking the meal. But things have changed. Vegan cafes have made their way into the city and many more are likely to open up this year. “The city is dotted with at least six vegan cafes,” Ali says. In fact, some regular restaurants also have a separate menu for vegans.
Eating like our ancestors
The unending Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to go back to where we all began — our ancestral roots. One look at the food markets in the city shows the increased focus on leading a healthy lifestyle. Consumers today prefer to have something on their plates that is healthy, fresh and delicious. “Millets are certainly going to see a wider acceptance. The Government of India has declared 2022 as the year of millets. Our ancestors knew the goodness of these grains. We had lost this awareness and now we are here to revive it. The trend has already made its way into Hyderabad, and in my opinion, it will leap further,” celebrity chef Chalapathi Rao says. Explaining why millets are any day better than rice, chef Kailash, executive chef at Novotel Hyderabad, says: “Rice comes in many varieties, but all of them taste more or less the same. In fact, the essence of rice is lost because of processing, polishing and refining. But, millets are wild and organic. Each specie has a different taste, texture and flavour. Star hotels are experimenting a lot with millets as it provides an array for preparing exotic, healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner”
Smaller restaurants, signature menus
Restaurants, both big and small, have mushroomed across the city in the recent past. But, according to food bloggers and chefs, smaller restaurants with signature menus are doing way better than larger ones that have lengthy menus. “People have become more specific about their food choices. They don’t want to eat everything at once, but love devouring authentic and well-prepared foods. We make all our recipes with love. We don’t mass produce or make the same masala for everything,” says Dipesh Ghimray, owner of Aama’s, a Nepalese restaurant at Gachibowli
Keeping count of calories
Some are obsessively worried about the nutrients and calories on their plate. But, don’t worry. Most of the star hotels and restaurants are working on redesigning their menus. “Besides the name of the recipe and price, most restaurants had started adding descriptions of the dishes they serve. But now, they will also be adding the number of calories that a portion would contain, besides macro and micronutrient content,” says chef Kailash
Reviving authenticity, preserving heritage
If you feel that you are having a hard time finding the perfect biryani or haleem, patthar ka ghost or nahari, you are not alone. According to chef Chalapathi Rao, Hyderabadi food has lost its authenticity and essence. But now, restaurants are mushrooming to revive the authentic cuisines. “Many new restaurants, and even old ones, are reviving dishes such as luqmi, patthar ka ghost, dum ka murgh, mutton dalcha, sikhampuri kebab, nazaquati boti kebab, nahari and keema khichdi khatta. They are also keen on maintaining the authenticity of biryani and haleem,” he says