• 24th September 2012 - By Indian Accent Restaurant

    22nd Sep, Financial World

    We’ve PRIDED our self on our a 2,000-year –old culinary culture, our expertise at spices and everything there is to our lip-smacking kitchen delights. But then why is it that each time I am looking for something good to eat, I end up ordering Pizza form my neighborhood fast food joint or rustling up a hot bowl of Maggi?

    Experts call it the evolution of the food palate. Fancy term for change of taste, some would say. Not when an august gathering of food experts sits down- amid various imported wines and fancy packaged foods- to look for some palatable relief in to how modern flavors have altered desi taste buds. So has the Indian palate really evolved?

    “ With more dispensable income at our end, yes there is a change. We are open to varied tastes and are willing to try on different cuisines. Also, now we stress more on a better lifestyle,” said Mohit Khattar of Godrej’s Nature’s basket at a panel discussion of retailers at the fine food 2012.

    Claude Bertrand,CEO of Debon International felt, “it is media exposure, people traveling more often and easy availability of products that has lead to this change.” Manish Mehrotra, Executive Chef, Indian Accent added,” Factors of necessity and fad play equal roles. Decades ago our parents only saved and laid stress on nutrition whereas now, it is more on convenience foods and about maintaining a lifestyle. Dinners were occasional then but now they are casual and regular.” Cold cuts and frozen foods, which were looked down upon a few years ago now adorn refrigerators in middle-class homes. “With packaged foods, India has always struggled but it is changing now. Our culture is to eat fresh food and our mothers love to play the nurturer and for whom health comes first. But I see a change now,” said Avni Biyani, Chief executive, Future Group. Sanjay Tandon, MD, Epicure Frozen Foods and Beverages and VP, Dabon international added, “Over 200 international food shows on TV are adding to the evolution. The aspirations of people are growing when it comes to food”. But the panel stressed that India being a price-sensitive country, our palates depends a lot on pricing, “so a local momos guy and the Chinese foods than any 5 star restaurant,” said Merotra. The Panel also held the growing awareness towards health responsible for the changes in our menu. “ Doctors prescribe a certain kind of oil or oats or tea to consume. Similarly, pop stores also try and push for a product calling it better when they are short of the product we ask for. That apart, health advertising is driving a lot to market changes.” He added.

    So oats and cornflakes have replaced parathas and in many kitchens there’s a substantial penetration of olive oil. “I dread to see a day when we will have jalebis fried in olive oil,” quipped Mehrotra.

    And the experts were totally unconvinced about the belief that Indian food is oily, spicy and hence unhealthy, “certainly not, it is the restaurant food which is oily and spicy. Our home-cooked food is absolutely fine,” Said Khattar. At the end of this bounteous brain-storming, the panel categorized the changes in eating habits according to age groups. “The taste of Indians below 30 has completely evolved, while that of those between 30 to 35 has not changed, whereas those about 50 are unwilling to experiments,” summed up Khattar.

    Financial World Sept 21

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