Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Special Report: Gen-Next Food 'Tadka' To Delhi Cuisines

The gong sounds. No it's not a Chinese restaurant trying to create an ambience, but a group of diners taking part in a unique experiment. The concept called Dans Le Noir, which literally means 'In the night' is now being recreated in India. What this means is that a a bunch of strangers will relish various cuisines, brought to them by whitegloved waiters - blind.

The concept, introduced by Food Talk India, is now being carried out in various restaurants in Delhi. Suchir Suri and Anjali Batra, founders of Food Talk India, explain that while the evening is a great 'bonding' experience, they want it to help break down barriers when it comes to food.

As Anjali says, "Human nature is such that we eat with our eyes - or rather with the lens on our phones nowadays - before we really taste our food. What we loved about this concept was that we had the power to stimulate the senses. Through this you are now thinking about every bite you take, trying to trace down the exact flavours, the textures and identify every little element. It's like shaking up your mind and making it learn things all over again."

It isn't just stereotypes about food that are being shaken up. Anamika Singh, certified tea taster and founder/director of Anandini Himalaya Tea in 2011, has introduced 'tea boutiques' to help discover, or rather rediscover the power of chai. Apart from introducing new signature blends of tea, Anamika, through her tea boutique sessions, has decided to educate both Indians and foreigners about this unique beverage and break some stereotypes in the process. As she says: "There is more to tea than just chai! And that is primarily the reason why I conduct events and workshops, to create awareness and to make people understand that there is diversity in this particular beverage. You can infuse it in food, you can sip it with food, you can have the finest tea, and keep its sanctity alive."

The result is astounding. Apart from buying signature blends guests can now opt for tea appreciation workshops, pairing of the right tea with cheese, or if you prefer, tea with chocolate. As Anamika elaborates: "The reason why I do such varied workshops is to make people understand the ability of this beverage to not only stand alone and infuse your senses but also to bring in an element of surprise of how tea can balance or accentuate the other food it is being paired with, without undervaluing it in terms of palate. At times, a spicy roghan josh is balanced off beautifully with a sip of Autumn tea. Or an Oolong tea has its sweetness highlighted if sipped with a smoked Gouda."

Such nouvelle concepts are actually striking a chord with Gen-Next, many of whom are well-travelled foodies. Bored of standard restaurants and standard menus - such endeavours are a great boon as it helps them to meet like-minded people and talk about food. This also allows the hospitality industry to introduce 'experimental' dishes, which they would not normally have dared to introduce in their traditional menus.

But more than anything else it is the sense of innovating on old-time favourite. Eat Treat, a Delhi-based food group on Facebook introduced a burger-faceoff, where "hidden gems" of the food industry got to showcase their burgers in a no-holds barred competition. 

Also on the anvil this month is a food flea market where foodies with a talent for making home pickles, jams, or even exotic treats such as snails, can sell their wares. But it's not just cooks. It also invites those who are farming organic vegetables, or selling unique kitchenware to take part. As a result, budding food entrepreneurs have a chance to meet their target customers.

The emergence of these offbeat ideas ensures that we are in for one huge gourmet adventure in the Capital.

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