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Innovative food ingredients that are changing the future of food in India
Thursday, 19 August, 2021, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Prof Sudhir Nair
Indian food, traditionally has been synonymous with regional hues and flavours, based on the skilful blending of ingredients usually locally sourced and conjured up with extreme dexterity with the base of the magic of spices.

Recently Indian food ingredients in recipes have undergone a metamorphosis of sorts due to an invasion of newer ingredients in the food scenario - the trends in innovation of ingredients with the Indian changing palates –

1) Fusion food - This has been updating ever since it was started a few years back - Spicy bhurji tofu, tadka pasta, stir fry veggies with paanch phoren (five spice mix), tikka Bharat masala pizza, pani poori  vodka shots, tandoori masala sandwich. Here Indian innovation at its best working on subtle variations of spices with foreign ingredients twist to innovate fusion cuisine served in modern avatars in plush eateries in star hotel menus.

2) The super  market scenario boom, even tough laid back by the current pandemic scenario, saw an interesting novelty variants in the processed food world in ingredients like oats upma, readymade iddly batters, processed Kerala paratha, jeera soda, turmeric ice cream, ashwagandha chocolates, bhaakri pizza, karonda (Indian cranberry) pickles in olive oil, Coorgi vanilla, moringa ( drumstick leaves) tea, filter coffee decoction and all these products were accepted by the Indian urban populace as convenient food during lockdowns.

3) Indian ayurveda and immunity - This is the latest running ingredients makeover with the list of highly potent herbal ingredients gaining in popularity (Kashaya, amla, Meghalaya turmeric, Ginseng, Chamomile tisanes, Himalayan salt lamp (for respiratory issues), Bitter gourd, Aloe vera, curry leaves powder, so many ingredients and suddenly food becomes a medicine today, what with social media blitzkrieg and the Indian citizens with the purchasing power change Indian ingredients and it's all for the buzzword immunity.

4) Entry of organic food and resurgence of millets as superfood. The rampant usage of pesticides in food ingredients in spite of legislation has seen a shift for many health conscious Indian urban populace to these ingredients and it includes all fruits, veggies, meat, poultry, seafood and also home  food delivery of these ingredients to a new found healthy ingredients list with gaining popularity day by day, even water is being made pure and now alkaline with gadgets.

Only it still remains beyond the reach of the common man since it is expensive. Connected to health again, even grain ingredients are being resurrected for good health and the resurgence of millets is a cause for cheer for all of us in India foxtail, barnyard, kodo, little millet to name a few are slowly gaining in popularity because of its fantastic health benefits, it's contribution to better environment for us all.

And lastly the sheer versatility of this innovative ingredients in our Indian kitchen be it the humble Indian upma, bakery products, puddings, dosas, iddli and not to forget grandmother recipes every where, revolution in cooking industry thanks to TV, internet, social media ads, make these pearls of rediscovered delights a treasure for all Indian recipes. Besides these there is also a newer ingredient called wonder spice blends with brands sprouting of all gourmet kitchen brands endorsed by famous personalities all over.

These include jackfruit powder, rice powders, banana powders, special spice blends for all gravies, mayonnaise mixes, even the famed spiciest chilli from Assam (Bhooth Jolakia) is up for grabs in elite supermarkets, notable mention here is also the recent popularity  of mud utensils, copper and brass utensils for cooking  like the days of old.

5) Street food innovations - This has special relevance because of its affordable prices and sheer variety and popularity of course in spite of hygiene issues (pre and post lockdowns it's still a cat and mouse game), open today, closed tomorrow. The emergence of food vlogs with Indians and foreigners too all pitching in to advertise and entice our snacks loving nation.

Every street has a story of secret delighted foodies who love this food because of the sheer mind boggling ingredients variety. To name just a few - stuffed variety samosa (sweet khoa, corn, beetroot, Manchurian, noodles, gobi, onions, plus the ubiquitous potato variety stuffing).

We have accepted mayonnaise as our own and blended the same with desi variety like never before corn chaat lapped up by mall visitors. Exciting omelettes of all ingredients, eggs of all variety, katti rolls with variations, ice granitas (desi golas) with Manama branded flavours of every colour, 99 variety dosa - even the dosa is stuffed with every stuffing from indo Chinese to North gravies, South traditional. Vada pao varieties - The branding of vada paos and blending with cheese, mayo and Schezwan and every imaginable spread variations from peanut butter to chocolate is available in Mumbai.  

6) Surat, Indore and Lucknow and all smaller cities each one has its chaat havens of delight with the mind boggling variety of chaat available with changing Indian tastes to cater to. Variety in pani poori in China clay pots are available too with innovative tastes to pamper the most discerning Indian palate.

7) Home cooking - Home is where the heart is. The lockdown has seen the emergence of so many new home cooks who are ever willing and swear by YouTube, Kitchens with names like Hebbars, Archanas, channels blitzkrieg of videos have all created new innovative ingredients like couscous, chia seeds, water chestnut, brocolli, mushrooms, pastes, spreads for sandwiches variety, sauces from thai to Italian to Moroccan all blended with Indian recipes to complete the great Indian ingredients innovation and Indian food never had it so good.

(The author is head of department for International Academy Of Management and Designing- Bangalore, Karnataka. He can be reached at
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