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Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11 : 49 AM [IST]

Food for Thought

The food industry has been a significant part in India’s ‘soft power’ strategy yet it remains outside the attention span of officialese. This is especially so since Indian cuisine is not just chicken tikka. The variety of Indian food across its many states is varied and quite impressive. Take Bengali cuisine for instance. Bangladeshi restaurants, all said and done, are not the perfect place for an Indian-Bangla repast.

It is in this context that the quiet effort of an India born Probir Chattopadhyay, a young logistics professional in London is quite interesting. As a foodie, he launched Supper Club called ‘Little Kolkata’ where he rents restaurant space to present a multi-course spread of exclusive Bangla cuisine, prepared by his colleagues and partner themselves. ‘Little Kolkata’ presents it in as Bengali an ambience as he possibly can. Including exhibitions of Indian art and utilising hands-on support of other professionals from diverse fields, the effort is as much an example of co-operative enterprise as it can be.

This development is interesting as it reveals an initiative of the diaspora to further fine-hone ideas of Indian food beyond the mughlai and chicken tikka lingo. Today in Britain, especially its capital city, there are Indian restaurants by chefs and entrepreneurs that are truly classy places, going much beyond the old idea that an Indian restaurant in London was where ‘you took your grandmother, not your banker’.

Unfortunately, the growth potential remains limited for Indian food, as there is a strong interest in emerging cuisines. It is this window that has to be addressed through promotion of the rich variety of regional Indian cuisine. According to a Mintel Report in the UK, not knowing what to expect remains a barrier for consumers to explore new ethnic cuisines from India, putting the onus on operators to provide guidance and increase familiarity.

The Indian food business is worth almost GBP 4 billion in the UK. The lopsided Brexit impact rules will hamper the requirement of trained chefs. Few among the local populace actually apply for training as chefs in Indian cuisine and this might choke the business over time.

The Indian food business is worth almost GBP 4 billion in the UK. The lopsided Brexit impact rules will hamper the requirement of trained chefs. Few among the local populace actually apply for training as chefs in Indian cuisine and this might choke the business over time.

A keener eye will reveal the far reaching impact of such and similar food shows. There are many desi entrepreneurs across world capitals that are doing their bit for sheer interest and fondness for Indian food. What is therefore required is a focus to support these initiatives to attract travellers and popularise the varied variety of cuisines that India is home to. The Indian travel industry can make a first move in their support. Any takers?

Anurag Yadav
Industry Expert


The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
 
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