Alterations in food habits were expected after the outbreak of Covid-19 in India and the Bengaluru based eateries have been quick to respond with the introduction of immunity-boosting elements in their menu. From Chocolate infused with turmeric, cumin, ginger and cinnamon to turmeric marinated tofu to Hemp and wheatgrass sorbet, chefs have accelerated the innovation meter.
“People have realised the need to eat healthy over the last few months. As much as indulgence is always part of life and saved for cheat days, a lot of healthy eating habit is now part of people’s lifestyle,” says Kanchal Achpal, Chief Marketing officer – Bliss Chocolates, which owns the brand Smoor.
Achpal further added, “Desserts are always a feel-good factor, chocolate fights depression and considered a natural mood enhancer, hence it will always be an important part of consumption pattern.”
A lot of diners have increasingly asked for healthier options of foods and this has prompted the restaurants and cafes to introduce the immunity-boosting F&B menu, while there are a few which have extended their existing offerings with more local elements and herbs.
Chai Point has curated a range of chai with fresh wholesome ingredients that are good for one’s system such as freshly-pounded ginger and cardamom, carom and fennel, pepper and cloves, star anise, hibiscus and Rooibos among other ingredients that are meticulously brewed with their Chai.
“We wanted to call out our chais for what they can do for the body, especially at a time when there are so many rumors floating about what works in protecting against viruses and seasonal ailments. We felt it was best to relay simple offerings and ingredients and inform our community about what and how these could work for their overall health and well-being,” says Amuleek Singh Bijral, CEO & Co-Founder, Chai Point.
Keeping in mind sharply rising ‘work from home’ scenarios and changing eating habits, Chai Point has also added to their all-day breakfast & mini-meal ranges from indulgent to healthy. They have launched veg semolina, pav bhaaji, semiya upma, pav omelettte, bread omelette, bise bele bath, veg & non-veg biriyanis and a full parantha range with curries.
Santé Spa Cuisine based in Indiranagar has always been synonymous with healthy eating habits for diners. They had launched a new menu just three months before the Covid-19 outbreak grounded everyone. “We are all about mindful spa cuisine hence there wasn’t a need to change anything. Our motive was to make people aware that clean and mindful food is the way to go,” says Pallavii Gupta, Partner, Sante Spa Cuisine.
As a part of the new menu, they also launched Hemp, which is super rich in protein and is naturally vegan and gluten-free.“We are constantly evolving and innovating recipes using local products and produce with a focus on flavour and taste,” adds Gupta.
Sheraton Grand at Brigade Gateway has started focusing more on ingredients that improve the immune system of the human body. “Ingredients like citrus fruits, fresh bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, garlic, yogurt, and poultry among others are incorporated in the menu items,” says Gaurav Anand, Executive Chef of the hotel.
“Nuts in baklava, dahi ki shammi, palak paneer, garlic chicken, grilled Salmon with tossed vegetables are some of the dishes which help in boosting the immune system,” adds Anand.
There are plenty of immunity-boosting ingredients and herbs that are seeing an increased adaption among the diners. Few ingredients have also been highly underrated but are finding acceptance and popularity now.
Gupta feels that Dill is one of the most undervalued herbs. “It is a super-rich source of Vitamin C and folate. We add dill to salads, smoothies, curry and even top it on pizzas. It not only has great health benefits but also has a wonderful fresh flavour,” says Gupta.
Chef Vikas Seth, Culinary Director of Lounge Hospitality which runs two popular restaurants in Indiranagar – Sanchez and Sriracha rightly points out that Fresh turmeric is always preferred over powdered turmeric for its purity, while ingredients like cumin and coriander are commonly used in several cuisines have great health benefits.
“Our cumin and coriander tacos are a popular adaptation of a Mexican dish using immunity building ingredients, known for their antibacterial properties. Another ingredient used in our Charred Broccoli Tacos is black pepper, while broccoli is rich in vitamins, fibre, iron & potassium, black pepper is a versatile spice that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well,” adds Seth.
This new situation which has resulted in the increased demand for healthy and immunity-boosting food and drink will naturally uplift the local procures and replacing or minimising imports.
Smoor is in the process of launching its own Indian single-origin ‘bean to bar’ dark chocolates with cocoa sourced from South India, combined with local Indian flavors like jasmine, peanut chikki, Mahabaleshwar berries and chatpata mango among others. “The lockdown has made a lot of imported resources unavailable. It has made us all realise that we can survive with local produce without compromising on the quality,” adds Achpal.
Bijral feels that it is a good time to reflect upon how Indian brands can help re-build the economy by being vocal for local. “From procuring to packaging, we do everything indigenously. This is a big source of drive for us and whether it is Garden to Glass teas or our commitment to sustainability, we have always been in touch with our roots,” concludes Bijral.