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Innovative food ingredients that are changing the future of food in India
Thursday, 02 June, 2022, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Chef Ritesh Tulsian
India is a land of varied cultures, cuisines, languages, ethic beliefs and geography. We have always been innovative in our approach since eras gone by, in various fields and with food innovation has been a constant affair. Right from adding a lot of spices and ghee to avoid health issues due to the water of Yamuna River to gluten free and vegan diets Indian consumers have seen it all.

In today’s time we get to see innovation with ingredients and culinary practices across the F&B industry like never before.

Vegan Products:
Vegan products like nut butters, plated based meats, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, are slowly and steadily taking centre stage on retail shelves, restaurant kitchens and also pantry of many households. Awareness towards veganism as a practice is the major reason why people are changing the way they eat.

Vegan desserts and ice creams are being made using vegan chocolate and almond milk or coconut milk to make sure no one following a certain lifestyle does not feel left out.

Gluten Free Products:
Flours made with peas, lentils, rice, lotus seeds, potato starch, wheat starch, almond flour, quinoa, are now being widely used for production of a range of baked goods, gluten free pasta, breads, cookies, for people suffering from gluten intolerance. Gluten allergens are increasing by the day due to various reasons and lots of restaurants have started to cater to needs and demands of guests that are having gluten allergy.

Gluten free pizza, gluten free pasta, gluten free desserts are a regular feature in A- list restaurants. Even restaurants serving traditionally Indian cuisine are opting to serve Indian breads made with gluten free flours.

Bakery Premixes:
Cake premixes, waffle premixes, pancake premixes, cookie premix, macaroon premix, brownie premix, muffin premix, ice cream premix, mawa cake premix, are definitely the future of food in India. Bakery industry is growing at a steady space in India and this industry has seen maximum growth in innovation with ingredients as well as equipments.

Since Covid suddenly we see a home baker in every nook and corner of our country. Even bakeries operating commercially find it very difficult to maintain consistency in their products as regular baking ingredients vary their chemical composition a lot. These various premixes have definitely been a sigh a relief for consistency as well as creating a varied range of eggless desserts. It also helps in controlling labour cost and overheads to a considerable amount in volume business models.

Artisan Bread Flours:

With Indian travelling like never before, demand for artisanal breads like sourdough, ciabatta, baguette, bagel, croissants, etc. has seen a growth in sales across metropolitan cities and Tier1 cities a lot. Flours like double zero flour, T 45, T 65, Sour dough culture premix, ciabatta premix, moisture control butter sheets for croissants and Danish pastries and many such ingredients are definitely the future on food in India.

Earlier the regular Indian all purpose flour was used by star hotels and bakeries for all types of bread production. Today with these innovative ingredients available easily getting that exact taste of the French boulangerie is not a mammoth task anymore.

No MSG Seasonings & No Sugar sweeteners:
Mono sodium glutamate or MSG is now banned by many countries or is stopped being used completely as a flavour enhancer in food due to its high sodium content. A lot of food companies have now created products various seasonings like premium aromatic seasonings, vegan demi glace powders, lime seasonings, Italian seasoning, cheese seasoning, as a substitute for MSG and also these ingredients not only enhance the taste and flavour of food but give that umami for which MSG has been known for. Refined sugars is getting replaced with stevia, erythritol, malitol or ingredients like coconut sugar, coconut jaggery, date palm jaggery in our kitchens today.

Regional Indian Grains & Millets:
With sustainability being talk of the town people today have moved over consumption of traditional grains i.e. wheat and white rice. Manipuri black rice, Himalayan red rice, varieties of millets and other local grains like jowar, nachni and jau and imported grains like quinoa are now being used only in homes but in restaurant kitchens to create dishes like risotto, nachni papdi chaat, quinoa bhel and the list goes on.

Whole grains or milled every chef today is looking to create something innovative with these locally grown ingredients to give a depth of flavour to their dishes and also to bring that value addition to their menus.

Cooking Sauces and Marinades:
Every cuisine has its own menus for fried or baked appetisers and sauces that are poured over or mixed with protein and veggies for a main course. Be it Indian curries or Chinese cuisine main courses or the American BBQ or French haute cuisine sauces; today we have a range of ingredients available to make anything and everything we want in a jiffy.

For example a basic tikka masala or a tandoori marinade in Indian cuisine requires pre prep of making ginger paste, garlic paste, red chilli paste, home-made garam masala spice blend but with availability of a tikka masala spice blend and other such marinades one can easily make delicious kebabs at home that will taste as good as a restaurant.  Similarly making Chinese sauces and Indian curries is also a tedious task and extremely time consuming.

With ready to cook Indian base gravies and Chinese base gravies cooking restaurant style Indian and Chinese food is also become easy for home cooks. Also making pizza and pasta today at home is become so easy with readily available pasta sauces. Nearly just a decade back having decent Arrabiata pasta required one to go a decent Italian restaurant but today one can make this classic delicacy at home without any fuss.

In simple terms it means naturally flavoured oil. Oleoresins have been in use by the food service industry since many years but today it’s available also for home consumption. The flavour enhancing oils will give that missing flavour note in home cooking that one gets in restaurant food or packaged food products. Smoke oil, Bhut Jholokia Chillli Oil, Thandai Oleoresin, Cardamom or Saffron Oleoresin or even a Biryani oleoresin is something that being widely used to change the way we cook food in India.

Innovation is something that is always welcome. Nostalgia and traditional methods and ingredients of cooking can never be replaced but with the changing climate, busier than busy lifestyle, evolving pallets we should learn to welcome newer and innovative ingredients in our kitchens. Be it artisan coffee beans / powders to almond butter or anything that will help us evolve should be welcomed in our homes.

(The author is consultant chef. He can be reached at tulsian.ritesh@gmail.com)
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