New restaurants opened, old habits refused to die. We ordered smaller bites and made it big on the world scene. This was the year every foodie decided to turn entrepreneur.
The food startup
If you don’t know a single person with a Web-based food business, you probably missed 2015 totally
Out Of The Box Solution: Pre-assembled, ready-to-cook meal boxes promised restaurant-style (or better) khana at ghar-ka-khana (or higher) prices. The catch: order a day in advance. Did you eat better at home? Sure. Will they replace dining out? 2016 will tell.
Bytes That Bite: Need home delivery from an out-of-range restaurant? There’s a site for that. Want a table at a popular place? There’s a site for that too. Want to complain about a bad restaurant? There’s an app with Google Maps marking 20 new restaurants to try.
The Home Advantage: Ambitious cooks partnered with Web-ordering platforms to offer home-cooked meals. The good news: regional treats became accessible, authentic and affordable. The bad news: you can’t order the same thing twice.
For Truck’s Sake! A bunch of people watched Chef and decided to sell rolls off a van in office areas at lunch. But the prices were high and the quality inconsistent. When the novelty has worn off and hipsters have moved on in 2016, that’s when the real test begins.
On the menu
Delhi Warmed Up To Dhansak: With Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu, Soda Bottle Openerwala and the old Parsi Anjuman, the capital has found an unexpected favourite in Parsi cuisine. With a slew of roomy new restaurants and bars, Connaught Place re-emerged as the new fun place to spend your after-hours — Hauz Khas Village, you’ve lost your charm.
Mumbai Bowed To The Bao: Pa Pa Ya served them, The Fatty Bao served them, while The Bao Haus Co specialised in them. As European-style cafés made way for casual, modern Asian menus, steamed buns became the new sliders — and tasted a whole lot better too.
The buffer zone
In 2014, we learnt that in terms of watch time, two of the top 10 YouTube food channels globally were from India, and that we were the top country in the world searching for “Recipes” on YouTube. Bas. This year everyone with a well-lit kitchen and a smartphone began uploading mummy’s recipes, nani’s secret ingredients, buaji’s tweaks and maasiji’s shortcuts. Altogether now: “Abhi isse das minute dheemi aanch par pakne deejiye…”
Across India and beyond
Food made the front page for good reasons, better reasons and unpalatable reasons:
Molecular Made It Big: In June, Gaggan Anand’s eponymous Bangkok restaurant made it to number 10 on the San Pellegrino list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the highest rank for an Indian chef and Indian cuisine (even if he’s technically in Thailand and technically cooks modernised Indian food). The restaurant also topped Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, a list that put Delhi’s Indian Accent at 22, Mumbai’s Wasabi by Morimoto at 29 and Delhi’s Bukhara at 41. So, when your neighbourhood joint serves deconstructed dhokla, you know where the inspiration came from.
India Took It Slow: In November, tribal people from 52 countries gathered in Shillong for India’s first Indigenous Terra Madre. The event (possibly the world’s largest gathering of tribals) helped share knowledge about food, nutrition and biocultural diversity, and celebrated Slow Food — an alternative approach to industrialised fast food.
India Missed Maggi, But Only For 2 Minutes: In June, when tests showed that the tastemakers in Maggi instant noodles contained alarming levels of lead, it led to a national outcry, many conspiracy theories, a product recall in several states and a call for a ban. The aftermath: hostels missed their primary fuel, young people realised they were rubbish at cooking anything else, and at pit-stops in the mountains, tourists were forced to eat *gasp* local food. By November, the yellow packs were back on shelves and fans restocked with glee.
From HT Brunch, December 27
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