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Features

This is what will define the dining culture in 2018

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The big restaurant-opening of the new year is at The Oberoi New Delhi. London-based chef Alfred Prasad will open a modern Indian diner at the revamped hotel. However, for average Indian diners, it is not big and expensive restaurants that are likely to define 2018. Instead, the dining culture is set to change with much-needed freshness by home cooks, niche restaurants and small entrepreneurs.

Home cooking — undiscovered recipes, regional ingredients and home chef-led concepts — is to get bigger as passion projects boom despite a tough business climate. Expect more places like Curry Tales, a 40-seater devoted to home-style food from the western coast that opened last year in Mumbai’s Khar locality. The brainchild of Sandeep Sreedharan, who quit his corporate job to turn chef, it is now getting serious attention in the city, sans promotion.

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The Bohri Kitchen, a popular pop-up, may get into the restaurant space. Sources say restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani is curating an interesting concept in central Mumbai with five niche, small restaurants, including The Bohri Kitchen and Saransh Goila’s Goila Butter Chicken under one roof. Goila Butter Chicken, meanwhile, is set to take the dish global with a pop-up in Melbourne at Masterchef Australia judge George Calombaris’s restaurant, The Press Club. In Delhi, one of the most exciting new projects is Jamun, an Indian restaurant by Rakshay Dhariwal of PCO and Ping pedigree, where recipes have been sourced from a number of home chefs. From Telangana mutton to Goan rissois, this one has a smattering of dishes you don’t find on regular menus.

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Expect artisanal coffee, tea infusions and locally made cheeses to be on more cafe menus and retail outlets. Small entrepreneurs with links to farmers and sourcing of millets, seasonal veggies and spices will flourish as the race for exclusively local ingredients heats up, wellknown chefs experiment and more restaurants like Bengaluru’s recent Go Native devoted to sustainable dining (all ingredients are sourced from nearby farms) spring up.

Non-metros are set for more gastronomic attention. Goa’s Gunpowder and Bomras, Jaipur’s Tapri Central and Dragon House, and Savya Rasa in Pune, with dishes from the southern states by cooks hired from old messes, have attracted national attention. Expect more quality restaurants in tier-II cities as India’s eating-out culture expands.

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