1. Comfort food
When life gets tough, food gets friendly. Simple, accessible dishes without complex flavours and textures will rule. Instead of steak topped with Camembert, caramelized yam and wasabi, it’s going to be steak with a simple pepper or mustard sauce and roast or mashed potatoes.
2. Hispania por flavour
Spanish dishes should appear on Olive’s new menus as owner A.D. Singh has signed on a Spanish chef. Also in line is Mexican cuisine. Ever since chef Nobu Matsuhisa, a Peruvian of Japanese descent, became one of the greatest exponents of modern Japanese cuisine with his restaurants across three continents, Western chefs have looked closely at Latin American ingredients and flavours. Expat Indian chefs are finally introducing these ideas here.
3. A little yen
Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi, will finally make the transition from five-star hotels and expensive fine-dining restaurants to more affordable outlets. Supermarket sushi promises to become a citywide phenomenon. By the end of the year, it should be possible to throw a sushi and sake house party at a reasonable cost. At weddings and banquet functions, live Japanese counters will be the next big thing.
4. In praise of prosciutto
The fan following for Italian continues. Speciality restaurants in five-star hotels will undergo subtle changes, with regional menus that also promise to be in tune with seasonal Italian produce. A winter menu, for example, will feature cheeses from Piedmont, noted for their quality at that time of year. A spring menu might focus on dishes from Modena in Emilia-Romagna.
5. More pasta lanes
Prediction for 2009: retail stores offering gourmet fresh pasta such as tortellini stuffed with ricotta or Parma ham, spinach, ricotta and walnut ravioli; or chitarra in a squid ink sauce.
6. Go green
Restaurants will roll out the green carpet for diners with dietary restrictions. Hotel restaurants are planning to offer 100% vegetarian menus alongside regular menus.
7. Tough nut
Allergen-sensitive menus and allergen-sensitive packaged foods will be a big boon. Restaurants will also be offering sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free foods on their menus.
8. Table for one
Hotels have realized that business travellers often travel alone. Guests who dine at a hotel’s Indian restaurant find the portion sizes too large. In response, hotels have decided to offer mini meals that are perfect for one.
9. Fresh ‘n’ fruity
Fresh exotic fruits are becoming easily accessible. Restaurants will offer open cooking stations where fruit juices will be freshly squeezed. Chocolate will have to make some elbow room for fruit-based desserts. Syrup-based flavoured cocktails will make way for fruit juice.
10. Chuffing down chèvre
Indians love cheese but the cold favourite for 2009 is goat’s milk cheese. The popularity of the cheese has been growing steadily over the years and is all set to explode in both restaurants and retail stores. Which ones are best liked? Almost all the varieties, including the stinky goat’s milk version of Roquefort and Gorgonzola!