Japanese, Chinese and Thai are some of the most popular cuisines in India, yet Asian desserts are often overlooked. However, beyond the craze for boba tea and Thai rolled ice cream, a number of new Asian confections on menus are poised to have broad, cross-over appeal.
In all likelihood, when one visit a Japanese restaurant, the dessert section of the menu will have a combination of Chinese desserts and some green tea ice cream. That is because there are no desserts, in the Western sense, to be found in traditional Japanese food culture. Yet the Japanese like their sweets and slowly the influence is being noticed in Indian restaurants catering to Asian cuisine.
Similarly, Chinese cuisine doesn't have much to talk about on native desserts. Although there's the Moon Cake during the Moon Festival, the Date Pan Cake and Dar Saan (honey-fried noodles). But they aren't indigenous as most desserts on the Chinese menu are Indian and English creations. Chefs who have mastered Chinese cuisine believe that as the main meal is generally heavy, the Chinese like something light. Hence they prefer fruits or tea.
For long, Indian chefs at high-end hotels have built up on just these concepts to create an array of desserts to go with the Chinese fare. But lately, India is witnessing a huge shift.
At Azuma Kara in New Delhi, desserts are always been in demand and when it comes to Asian desserts people just go wow for it. When the Pan Asian restaurant first tried its five-spice mousse and Macha mousse, all just drooled crazy. “Since our start, we have been constantly driven to push our desserts and yes we have received good positive reviews from our customers. I guess this drool for Asian desserts will Increase rapidly in years to come,” the founders, Vidhi Taneja and Sonal Taneja commented.
However, Taneja feels that Indians are a little late to jump onto the trend of Asian desserts as countries like France and England have been experimenting with these flavours for quite a few years now.
“In terms of demand, I feel people are more aware of the unique tastes that both these flavours bring! The need for new such desserts is definitely increasing however I think there's still a long way to go as it's an acquired taste and people would take a while to get used to it,” Taneja further added.
The recent kick to the rise in Asian desserts can be because of the sudden wave of K Drama in India. K-pop, as well as Korean dramas, have been a prominent subculture among India’s GenZ and millennials for the last couple of years now. Currently busy with growing Hello Panda, a delivery-only service that offers gourmet cuisine (which he co-founded in the midst of the pandemic), chef Vikramjit Roy mentioned that Korean dishes along with desserts have seen a rise in demand.
At Nori in Delhi, Asian desserts have seen a rise in demand as they have a unique flavour that surprisingly does not feel alien and hence people have started enjoying them. The trend is growing especially in cities like Delhi where people are eager to expand their palette and experience new flavours.
Commenting on the same, Konal Motwani Owner of Nori said “Delhiites are quick to catch new trends and Asian cuisine seems to have caught their fancy lately. International flavours with a touch of home are how we define Asian cuisine because that is what we have heard our patrons say.”
This transitional shift can also be accredited to the globalization of the food culture. As Anubhav Nayar, Co Owner and Head Chef of Namaste Asia believes that with Asian cuisines gaining popularity and preference with the diners, it was due time that Asian desserts also take over the palates as a healthier and visually attractive addition to Indian and western sweets.
At Namaste Asia as well, the team is slowly moving towards this trend by incorporating these flavours into their Asian inspired desserts.
There’s surely more to Asian sweets than mochi balls and bubble tee and much more than macha based desserts. Pandan, cherry blossom and other flavours from across the regions also are getting sweet treatments in India. India is moving beyond the idea of only ‘Hindustani Meetha’.