Pandemic to shape food and dining trends of 2021

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2020 made many of us #quarantinechef, #quarantinebaker and the business of home-chefs boomed like never before. Meanwhile, we also learnt to nail minimalistic cooking as well as appreciate our local food more. In the New Year, most of these trends continue to rule, while some other trends like dining at home and wellness cooking will see a boom as per experts. Here is the lowdown on which food trends will rule 2021.

As per the Godrej Food Trends report, the country had been levitating towards regional and micro-cuisines since 2019, but after the pandemic set in, the trend saw a major boost. Chef Ranveer Brar notes, “I believe in the new normal, most people would prefer eating hyperlocal, and in a way they would be compelled to appreciate all that is around us. This may be the best time for neighbourhood eateries, as more people will keep hunting for regional cuisines”.

In the lockdown too, people saw smaller eateries getting a boost and rise in demand of micro-cuisines. “Due to the pandemic, everyone sort of realised that relying on foreign ingredients will not work out in the longer run. As people learnt to be frugal and appreciate more local spices and condiments, the hyperlocal and micro-cuisines became more popular. The trend will continue to rule 2021 as well,” shares food connoisseur and Chef Amit Pamnani.

As we were forced to stay indoors for most part of last year, reliance on homemade food grew. This in turn also made home chefs, cloud kitchen trend over the year, which according to experts will continue to rise in the current year too. Amrita Sarkar, a home-chef from Kolkata agrees with it and shares, “I began my home-kitchen business during the lockdown itself. Even in six months of the last year, the work was aplenty. And not just me, my contemporaries who started home-kitchens or home-cooked food dabbas, last year have been prospering. In 2021 too, we have a dedicated client list who are ordering on a daily basis.” She opines that the trend grew because no one can keep eating restaurant style food over longer periods, and some of them just couldn’t cook it; hence the rise.

At the same time, Pamnani points out that comfort food is also here to stay. “Now ghar ka dal-chawal or khichdi has more value than restaurant made butter chicken or tikkas. In this year too, there will be more focus on making and eating food that our grandmothers and mothers used to make. With a stagnant lifestyle, this kind of food is easy to digest,” he shares.

A lesson that 2020 imbibed in all of us, is to keep focus on health and immunity. Carrying forward the lessons from last year, 2021 will see a rise in food that prioritises wellness and immunity. “While wellness food has always been doing good, this year the focus will be more on Indian ingredients that boost immunity and health like turmeric, ginger, ghee, amla, jaggery and the likes. Additionally, people will favour locally available herbal concoctions and seasonal produce to stay with the times, while focusing on health. The conversation of food is more inwards than outwards this year” shares Chef Ranveer.

Last year not only made us cook more food, but also work on our gardening skills to grow our own food. “Pandemic shifted our focus towards more sustainable living, and we all learnt that we can easily grow what we want to eat, even in smaller apartments. This has given rise to the trend of growing own vegetables and herbs at home. Almost everyone has now learnt how to propagate and grow the daily vegetables like onion, brinjals, chillies, spinach, tomatoes etc. This year the focus may also shift towards more plant based diets instead of animal protein” comments Chef Ajay Chaudhary from Mumbai.

After so many months of staying indoors and working from home, most of us have started eating earlier than usual. According to experts, this trend will pick up more steam in the year ahead, also encouraging dining at home instead of eating out. “Dining in, house parties will definitely do much better than going out. Maybe, our eating clocks will also start half an hour early. Being at home, our bodies have gotten used to eating early. This is more suitable to the WFH culture. This in turn will push the neighbourhood restaurants to fore, because people will want to have food by say 8.30 pm, so they wouldn’t want to drive a long distance in bigger cities, just to dine-out,” shares Chef Ranveer.

-Less is more. Eateries will have lesser items on the menu, and will also focus on creating single portions

-Culinary tourism will pick up. People will travel to destinations just to savour the local food that the country has to offer

-Meal kits and home-delivery will see a rise, as more people may prefer eating at home

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