Baguette and Makkhan..?
“One veg fettuccini, with white sauce and an espresso, please”. The girl in rugged jeans and unkempt hair succinctly placed her order to the keen waiter, who briskly noted it down. While across the other table, nibbling at my brownie and latte, I wondered how commonly these lines are repeated across the metropolis today; just as ordering a Vada pav or Masala chai was a few decades ago. It seems as though the Indian sub-continent has effectively turned into a global village overnight. Ask a college student what a risotto is, and at lightning speed you would be told “Cooked rice in sticky, white cheese sauce”, probably with an added smirk for having asked something so obvious.”Duh”. Ask the gazillion office workforce what they drink, and you would be answered in the lines of “a latte with 1 sugar”, or “black with 2 sugars”. Inquire to the tall gentleman in a black tux and an Ipad in his hand about a sushi and he would grunt with a dramatic wave of his hand “a roll of rice and raw fish”.
It seems, over time Indians have grown accustomed to International cuisines along with adapting to fast fashion and foreign brands. The overflow of pasta bars, steak houses and pizzerias seems to be never ending and in tune with the rising proportion of Indian crowds visiting these destinations. The sync with global flavors has been witnessed at breakneck speed. For the new majority of restaurants and fine dining outlets that have sprung up; most of the restaurateurs are ideally chefs-turned-entrepreneurs, who are well versed in a variety of cuisines and are banking on the Indian penchant for a global palate. The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has estimated the food service market in India to be $48 Billion. Undeterred by waves of recessions or inflation, the food industry is projected at an average growth rate of 11 per cent, valued at $200 Billion by 2015.
The epoch of culinary fusion is eminent. International dishes are modified across households with an Indian punch, Tadka mar ke. We now eat tofu instead of paneer, and use tomato chutney as a bridge to salsa. Rather than painstakingly knead dough for pizza, a pan chapatti with a slice of amul cheese and veggies does the trick. A Chinese stir fry with a dash of soy sauce has become the quick fix solution for those left-overs. Mushrooms and baby corn are add-ons more frequently used in Sabzis, and the perfect bulls-eye is highly appreciated and relished over the beaten omelet.
It just doesn’t end with the Indians giving way to try-outs. A peek into the affairs overseas depicts Britain, Australia and America titillating their palate to Indian Gastronomy. There is what appears to be a quantum leap in the number of Indian restaurants and eat-outs that have successfully made its mark in the global market, which can largely be attributed to the growing rate of Indian immigrants, who have gone abroad and craved a bite of home cooked Dal Chaval and Palak Paneer.
Apparently along with its fair share of Bollywood and Bhangra moves, Indian flavors have struck a chord in the West and across Europe. Vernacular spices such as Coriander, Garam masala and Turmeric are widely available in a majority of supermarkets. To add to it, one can also find aisles of Indian chutneys, ready to eat parathas and idli batters.
Prominent Chefs such as Gordon Ramsey had a stint with Indian food during his showcase-“Gordon’s Great Escape”. British-Indian food writer, Anjum Anand has her forte in simplifying Indian spices and techniques, while Atul Kochhar is the first Indian Chef to be awarded a Michelin star for his restaurant –Benares, which popularizes in Indian and British food. With the Murgh rogan josh, fast gaining momentum in the International dictionary, along with runny gravies, Chicken tikka, delectable kababs and dal makhani; Critics believe that the desi cuisine has come of age in the intercontinental vistas.
I am quite convinced that as I clear my plate in the café; somewhere across the time-zone, an American is probably walking into a restaurant and placing an order-”One chicken tandoor, please”.