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Fermentation the trend we need! | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

All along, the East has been looking to the West for a lead when it comes to trends in the culinary space. However, that fad seems to be turning topsy-turvy with the West now looking to the East for direction. From Chai Lattes, Golden Milk (turmeric milk) to good ol’ ghee and most recently fermented food. Our grandma’s kitchen secrets are now being openly repackaged and served to the West on a platter. And the best part is unlike other food trends, this one is here to stay and does not have an expiration date. Chefs tell us more.

A food trend we needed

Fermented food has always been part of our balanced Ayurvedic diet shares Himanil Khosla, executive chef, The Wine Rack. The fact that the West is now talking about the benefits of food that is good for your gut has helped put the spotlight on it, not only across the globe but also in restaurant kitchens back home. He adds, “Gut-friendly food like fermented food is something we all needed after all the excesses. It’s drawing attention not only because of all the good bacteria that it brings to our diet, but also the unique flavour it brings to the table. In Ayurveda, fermented food is aimed at strengthening our agni — which is the power of digestion.” He goes on to emphasise the fact that some of the most loved fermented dishes in India are dosa and idli from the south, the iconic dhokla from the west and the Bengali rice preparation Panta bhaat in the east. He says, “My favourite is the Kanji, a summer beverage made in Punjab and northern India from fermented carrots. Fermentation also plays a very important role in bringing us some of our favourite cheat meals, such as jalebis and chole bhature.”

The Asian influence...

It’s not only India, people across South East Asia have always looked at gut-friendly and fermented food as an intrinsic part of their diets. The Japanese have many ingredients which are fermented, and are intrinsic to their cuisine like mirin, miso, soy sauce, umeboshi ­(salted plums), sake and even fermented tuna. South Korea again has Gochujang and Kimchi (also popular in Malaysia) that flavours most of their dishes, while the Chinese make use of fermented bean curd in a lot of their fare, Indonesians have Tempeh, a traditional soy product, while shrimp paste made from fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt is a hit in Malaysia. However, what has drawn the attention of the West to the East is longevity and a healthy lifestyle of Asians, which both sides attribute to the consumption of gut-friendly, mainly fermented foods. Somehing chef and restaurateur Farrokh Khambata agrees with and adds, “Fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria, which is good for health and a person’s digestive system. These also break down fibres in the food making them more easy to digest. Fermented foods have always been present either in the form of bread or as cheese. These originated when microorganisms in the air initiated fermentation resulting in the end product which had more flavour and was more palatable.”

Using the old ways for a healthy gut

While both the East and the West have their share of fermented foods, it’s the sheer amount consumed and it being an intrinsic part of a healthy diet that probably has suddenly made it the focus of studies. Chef Sahil Singh, executive chef at Massive Restaurants Pvt Limited, puts it down to our quest to using ancient knowledge to our advantage. He adds, “Beers, pickles, kimchi, bread etc are classic examples of fermented foods that have been around for centuries. In the current times, it has become a common practice to cook using the ancient elements with modern techniques and technology. Fermentation will remain the same in the years to come as it is something, which will never fade away as a trend. The techniques may vary but the process will remain the same.” 

Chef Himanshu Taneja, director of culinary, The St Regis Mumbai, agrees and adds, “Fermented food like Sauerkraut (cabbage) that’s a German favourite, can improve health and boost immunity by creating an internal balance of beneficial microflora in the intestines. Eating fermented food every day is an easy way to get your health back on track”.

Fermentation is all about preserving produce, and preserving as a technique has been around for the longest time. Its practical outlook and the flavour profile is unmatchable, according to head chef Rishim Sachdeva, Olive Bar and Kitchen, who predicts 2018 will be about preserving peppers as they are versatile and there’s so much you can do with them. While Nitin Bhardwaj, senior Sous Chef, Hello Guppy, believes that we will be seeing a lot of Miso ramen, fermented black rice sushi and plant based diets this year.

After all they do say great fury, like great whiskey, requires long fermentation, and a trend like this one clearly has it right as it’s been fermenting on the sidelines for a long time, and now is ready for pickling.



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