The Indian Food Services industry is the third largest service sector in the country, following Retail and Insurance, being 20 times the size of the film industry, 4.7 times of hotels, and 1.5 times of the pharmaceutical sector.
This rapidly evolving sector is led by the Indian restaurant industry, which is expected to experience a massive growth of roughly 10.4% CAGR for the next 5 years, between 2018 and 2022, to reach INR 5.5 trillion by 2022, as per a report by CARE Ratings.
The Indian restaurant industry has undergone tremendous changes over the past few years, when it comes to innovation. The hospitality industry, on a larger scale has seen significant evolution during the last year by offering a wide range of world class facilities and services. In addition, the cuisine of India is one of the world's most diverse culinary offerings, characterised by its sophisticated and subtle use of the many spices, vegetables, grains, and fruits grown across the country.
The cuisine of each geographical region includes a wide assortment of dishes and cooking techniques, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse Indian subcontinent. India's religious beliefs and culture have also played an influential role in the evolution of its cuisine.
Rise of Indian cuisine
Molecular gastronomy has existed all around the culinary world for many years now. In light of this, the highly adaptive Indian cuisine has embraced countless exciting new formats which have made it one of the hottest selling propositions in the country since the last decade.
Although, Indian cuisine is highly region specific, there are certain common threads that unite the different culinary practices. Throughout the nation, the cuisine is highly dependent on curries, which are gravy-like sauce or stew-like dishes, with meat, vegetables, or cheese, although the particular spice mixtures, degree of liquidity, and ingredients, are determined by regional preferences.
For example, the most prevalent culinary style found outside of India, is Northern Indian cuisine, which reflects a strong Mughal influence. It is characterised by a high use of dairy: milk, paneer (an Indian mild cheese), ghee (clarified butter), and yogurt are all used regularly in Northern dishes. Eastern Indian cuisine is primarily known for its desserts. These desserts are not only favoured by other regions in India, but are frequently found at Indian restaurants, their light sweetness making an excellent finale to a meal.
As a result, Indian food, with its multiple unique ingredients and intoxicating aromas, is greatly coveted all around the world. The labour-intensive cuisine and its mix of spices, is more often than not, an absolute revelation for those who sit down to eat it for the first time, as the substantial amount of cardamom, cayenne, tamarind, and other flavours, can dazzle an unfamiliar palate. Together, however, they help form the pillars of what tastes so good to the customers.
Food is changing every day and people want to try the best of everything, from lavish spreads at five star restaurants to local street-side specialties. Street food has always been widely beloved because of its cost effectiveness and unbeatable taste and flavour. If restaurateurs could successfully elevate the hygiene and presentation level of street food, then they can emerge as a clear winner in the street food segment. Not only this, many five star hotels are also following the same trend today, and have included many street food items in their menu.
Yet another specialty of Indian cuisine, fusion food is today massively popular in restaurants all over the country. By absorbing elements from a variety of regional Indian, as well as international cuisines, fusion food has created countless unique and non-traditional delicacies. These dishes are characterised by the use of traditional Indian spices and/or cooking methods for popular global cuisines, including Chinese, Thai, Italian, and more. By breaking away from the mould, and fusing the best of both worlds, fusion food is able to captivate all those who try it!
The Restaurant industry today
Today, the internet and social media have revolutionised every industry, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Things are changing fast, and restaurants have to work hard to stay competitive and relevant to an extremely unpredictable customer base.
With an entirely new world of apps out there, customer expectations have undergone a full transformation. Speed and efficiency have taken on new meaning regarding every element of the restaurant experience – from making reservations to ordering and payments. Customers expect things to be done quickly, efficiently, and right, the first time. There is no shortage of tech options out there to help restaurateurs deliver the absolute best service to customers.
Guests visiting restaurants are more knowledgeable than ever about anything that is happening in a restaurant. Patrons now understand much more about how much food actually costs, the quality of the produce, what they should be paying for a meal, and are more likely to have opinions on your stylistic choices, such as décor, as well. As such, the typical customer’s palate is much more diverse and comfortable with combinations of flavours that would have been reserved for the elite 10 years ago.
As a result, the Indian restaurant industry has rapidly grown to adapt to this dynamic and ever changing customer demographic. The key element of the Indian cuisine, today, is innovation, with the desire to provide a comprehensive experience. This goes beyond just the food, and also looks at the ambience, the presentation, and all the various elements that make up the experience of eating at a restaurant.
The way ahead
Today, there has been a rise in many platforms designed to promote specialised Indian cuisines, as well as restaurants. For instance, Charcoal Concepts is a platform that helps conceptualise, incubate, develop, and grow leading brands in Indian food and beverage, which boasts of a distinct and wide plethora of flavours. With a focus on inspiring innovation with a growth mind-set, it promotes a diverse range of Indian flavours, catering to the unique needs, tastes, and preferences ofthe dynamic modern customer.
In addition, the renewed focus on healthy eating has also been a huge influence on the transformational growth of Indian cuisine. This has led to a revival of many old forgotten millets, rice grains, and cereals, which are used as alternative ingredients to create special preparations for the health-conscious customer. In the years to come, this will continue to parallelly shape the Indian cuisine, infusing a range of healthy, traditional elements in it, while also drawing inspiration from popular international delicacies.