Sharing—no, thank you! The standard Indian etiquette is shifting. It had to. What was once customary is today risky.
Tables filled with sharing bowls are now giving way to single-person orders.
Restaurants are revising their menus to accommodate this demand, and diners who’ve stayed away from eating out for what seems like an eternity, are ready to gourmandise.
At first, there was reluctance. Then practicality hit home. “Our culinary habits are deeply rooted in our culture. To tell an Indian who has grown up sharing meals with friends and family, to order just for themselves, had to be met with some cringing at first, but these times have made us adapt fast. We’ve adjusted to the new normal so well that even if a few more things are demanded of us (big or small), we’ll oblige for the larger good,” says Delhi-based Parul Pratap, Executive Chef, Music and Mountains.
At her restaurant, sandwiches have been flying off the rack everyday since operations re-opened.
Chicken and ham, and pulled pork are top reckoners. Sloppy burgers, grills, and old fashioned sizzlers come second.
They’re well-portioned and meant to satiate one person.
“Salads, roasts and pasta have always been popular on our menu as single portions and guests love to order them so we intend on offering more variations within these categories,” she says, adding,
“The focus for everybody will be on plated meals that combine innovation and experimentation to keep a guest’s interest alive.”
Mamagoto, Hello Panda, Sly Granny and several others have already added more single-portions to existing menus.
People like home chef Brinda Rao, who has been generating good business through the lockdown, are now changing their menus completely to accommodate this new preference.
“I am now selling pizza by the slice as that seems to be a favourite order. I am in the process of introducing 20 new items as an individual serving,” she says.
Much before this became a hot topic, Chef Vikramjit Roy of Hello Panda, was sold on the idea of a composite single plate that offers different elements to a hungry diner.
“With continental food, individualised portions are standard practice. The real is to see how Indian food will fit into this. Perhaps, combo meals will take precedence or bowl meals will have more takers,” he says.
His restaurant was one of the first ones to recalibrate to the change. Ramen Noodle Soup, Chengdu Chicken Wontons with Dried Chilli Sauce, and Crystal Mushroom Dumplings are his top recommendations for such orders.
Guppy, Lodhi Colony in Delhi, too has joined the single-portions’ bandwagon with delicious ramen noodle dishes such as Five Mushroom Suimono Ramen, Chicken Paiten Ramen and Hokkaido Miso Ramen.
In this climate of changing food experiences, here’s one more that packs promise.