www.southwestfoodservice.com | December 2022 - January 2023

Post-Pandemic Culinary Trends: Indian Cuisine

By Chef Kline, Executive Chef at Tyson Foods

While culinary trends slowed widely during the pandemic, we’re seeing some global flavors on the rise again. One we’re very excited about is Indian cuisine in the U.S., which I predict we’ll see growing on menus for several reasons:

  • Health-conscious diets are on the rise, and global cuisines like Indian food can offer big flavor in a variety of ways.
  • The Indian population in the U.S. is growing, increasing demand for and availability of Indian cuisine.
  • Chefs are looking for more vegetarian / limited protein options like Indian cuisine offers.

The result of menuing Indian cuisine? Big flavor with a wide ride range of textures, consistencies and proteins to satisfy patrons’ desire for new flavors balanced with their familiar favorites.

Ready to hop onto a trend like Indian-style food? Here are three tips to get started:

  1. Know your patron’s palate.

Research your clientele’s willingness to try new cuisines. If they’re hesitant, consider slowly adding dishes onto your menu. For example, begin adding Indian flavors into sauces. Gradually adding menu applications can help gain acceptance versus rolling out a full group of Indian-style entrées onto the menu immediately.

  1. Start with familiar ingredients.

To get and grow acceptance of new cuisines, start by introducing familiar ingredients. Things like butter chicken (up 32% on menus¹), curry² or naan³ are very small touch points on the overall flavor profile of Indian cuisine. But they’re a simple path to gain usage and acceptance and an excellent way to deliver big flavors in a cost-effective way.

  1. Consider costs & margin up!

Many ingredients allow operators to margin up with global cuisines. Indian cuisine in particular uses lots of greens, rice and vegetables – all bulking agents – as well as cost-effective proteins like beans and cheeses.
Also, Indian cuisine does not typically include a traditional six-ounce serving of protein. Instead, it utilizes small amounts of the costliest ingredients and spreads usage across a wider range of product.

As an example, a dish might have a small portion of chicken or pork (versus a giant serving), complemented by vegetables, grains and flavors to make up the whole dish, versus the protein standing as the single center-of-the-plate star. The smaller ratio of costlier ingredients can make such dishes margin-boosting winners on the menu.

Ready to get started menuing Indian cuisine? Try versatile ingredients like:

¹Datassential MenuTrendsÔ, Indian Entrees Instant Chart, Nov 2021; results based on four-year trend on menus in the U.S.

²Three out of four patrons are familiar with curry; almost 1 in 5 say they like it or love it already. Source: Datassential MenuTrendsÔ, Curry SNAP Profile, Nov 2021

³Naan has slowly and steadily grown on menus – up 44% over 10 years – and is familiar to around half of patrons (49%). Source: Datassential MenuTrendsÔ, Naan SNAP Profile, Nov 2021

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