Wishing you a Happy New Year, and when I say that, I mean it with utmost probity and hope. Given that it’s been such crappy last two years, happy change is something we are all looking forward to, and change is inevitable. It is often said that we all feel change around ourselves with the help of our senses—our eyes, nose, ears and tongue. Exactly the same organs that herald changes in the things we eat and the way we eat them, and experts say 2022 is expected to bring about a change in our eating habits and in our food. After all, the upheavals of the past can’t go without a response or backlash. So after a lot of rumination, referencing and research, these are few food trends that I have found, and that we can expect in the coming year.
Let’s start with the obvious. After two years of our immunity being intimidated, we will all look for foods that can give us that bonus buttress. So immunity boosting foods like turmeric, probiotic foods like yoghurt, oily fish like salmon, tuna which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds, edamame, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and other super-foods like broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes are expected to become the infatuation.
For example, the leaves of Moringa or the drumstick tree, almost all parts of which can be consumed or used as ingredients in traditional medicines, is considered a miracle leaf with seven times more vitamin C than an orange and 15 times more potassium than banana. Moringa powder can be sprinkled onto salads, eggs, pasta and risotto. It can be added to baked foods like bread, stirred into soups and curries, blended into shakes, juices, smoothies and ice creams. A bit like the Hibiscus. Hibiscus, the pretty flower, with its high vitamin C content, and traditionally used in medicine, food and drink, is also about to stage a comeback, with Hibiscus-flavoured yoghurts, drinks, fizz drinks, fruit spreads and tea.
First there is vegetarianism, then there is veganism and then there is reducetarianism. If you are not yet a vegetarian or a vegan, but are mindfully reducing your consumption of non-vegetarian food and animal products, you are called a reducetarian. This goes hand in hand with a trend that we are noticing, that of plant-based foods. It’s now become quite fashionable. Even actor Riteish Deshmukh recently launched a brand which specialises in plant-based meat. Plant-based meat alternatives are a growing trend in the West and expected to disrupt the Indian market as well. Biryani, burgers, kebabs that taste like meat, but are made from plant-based mock meats.
Speaking of plant-based proteins, potato milk is slated to be the new trendsetter of 2022. It seems like potato milk will give almond milk, oat milk, and soy milk a run for their money. Experts insist that potato milk is dairy-free, fat-free and cholesterol-free. The calcium content in potato milk is comparable to cow milk. And the minerals and vitamins in potato milk are more than any other vegan milk variety. All that remains to be really scrutinised is the taste, since I have never tasted potato milk.
My favourite trend, and one which I hugely succumbed to, is the air fryer. I bought myself one in the lockdown and have never ever regretted it. Agreed that nothing comes close to the taste of golden brown deep-fried food, but if you can reduce the fat content by 90 per cent and yet enjoy what I consider 70 per cent of the original deep-fried taste, what’s wrong with that? I fry prawns, French fries, Punjabi samosas, and even sabudana wadas in an air fryer, and they come out nearly as good.
Moving to restaurants, an industry which has faced the brunt of these catastrophic times and has already started reinventing. We are expecting smaller menus, because of reduced capacity, staff issues, supply chain issues and customary pandemic craziness. It is predicted that this trend of smaller menus and fewer options but with more creativity and better food will continue into the next year.
Food ordered digitally saw a boom and the boom is here to stay. Delivery is king and ghost kitchens (kitchens set up to cook and prepare food meant only for delivery) will see a spurt. Just the thought that multiple cuisines, numerous food brands, plentiful cooking styles and diverse food tastes are coming out of one single space is mind-boggling.
Similarly, restaurants packaging their own foods or spices and sending them straight to your house or making them accessible in the supermarket is another trend. So if you want a Butter Chicken from your favourite restaurant, or Sarson ka Saag from your favourite city in Punjab, it may just be available in heat-and-eat packaging. Or, if you want the secret spice that goes into your favourite Nihari or Biryani, that too will be available on retail, so that you could rustle up the dish at home.
Social media will be your new cookbook or recipe master. YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, which nearly wiped out print last year, will unfortunately render the printed book and TV food show obsolete.
These are some of the broad trends expected this year. As far as food and drink trends go, a few interesting things have been predicted. For example, Espresso Martinis are expected to trend this year, Japanese and Korean foods along with fermented foods like Kimchi, Sourdough Bread, Apple Cider Vinegar, Yoghurt, Tofu, Miso, Sauerkraut and Kombucha will make their ways into innovative dishes and recipes. Herbal teas like chamomile, matcha, earl grey, oolong, and Kashmiri Kahwa will be preferred over just tea and coffee and alcohol-free drinks like mock-cocktails will trend (how sad!).
And the last trend that’s unravelling worldwide, though lamentably looked down upon at home, may just soon be here. Pet-friendly restaurants, where you can take your pet along with you and enjoy a meal with your furry friend.
Kunal Vijayakar is a food writer based in Mumbai. He tweets @kunalvijayakar and can be followed on Instagram @kunalvijayakar. His YouTube channel is called Khaane Mein Kya Hai. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.