The first part of January always sees #TrendPredictions hashtagged all over social media. These trending forecasts are even less reliable than the British weather, highly subjective, and pretty much always predictably random.
But they’re also a lot of fun to compile, and help spread some juicy gossip from top talent in a given area. And when it comes to the food of India and the wider subcontinent, there’s a lot of gupshup to share. So go on, get the gyaan as I jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the future forecasters…
Things are really coming up roses this year for the self-styled ‘Pukka Paki’ Sumayya. The food writer and cookery teacher has made it her mission to share the cuisine of her native Pakistan with British foodies, and now she’s helping them sprinkle a little fairy dust on their dinner. Okay, not fairy dust – but a range of beautifully aromatic spice mixtures created exclusively for her new ‘Masala Monsoon’ brand.
Each of the three garam masalas is blinged up with a different bloom – jasmine, rose and marigold. Although inspired by memories of monsoons in Pakistan, Jamil is insistent that the products work perfectly in diverse dishes from any cuisine – as evidenced by the recipe cards that accompany each blend. Scottish scoffers can get a taste on Jan 18th at Billington’s Deli in Lenzie, whilst those with a taste for her heritage should start working up an appetite for Sumayya’s forthcoming food memoirs.
With charity dinners to cook, banging books on Bombay to pen, training events to teach, telly appearances to rehearse for, and brilliant soapbox rants to be masterminded, it’s surprising the chef has managed to stand still long enough to plan a brand new restaurant. But somehow he has – and Assado will open its doors in March.
The Waterloo venue is bound to be brilliant – c’mon, we’re talking national treasure here (and one who cooked for the Queen’s Jubilee, at that). But with the multicultural menu, Cyrus is also guaranteed to surprise those who know him primarily for predominantly Parsi preparations.
Cyrus’ aim with Assado is to explore the cuisine of the Portuguese who had so much influence in Goa, along with the contribution of the ingredients they introduced throughout the wider world. The menu will incorporate a little India, of course, but by no means be limited to subcontinental specialities. I, for one, am hotly anticipating some excellent eclecticism from such a quirky character.
Once the dratted detox has been ditched and Britain bows once again to temptation for its signature sweet-tooth, Sonia’s a sure bet. Her fusion food company ‘Indian Rose‘ might be in its infancy, but it’s a bonny baby indeed; the sort of superchild that inherits only the best qualities from each of its parents. In the case of Indian Rose, it was British baking and Indian sweetmeats that played ‘mum’ and ‘dad’, fostering a fine range comprising everything you shouldn’t eat but simply must.
Anyone who craves a cookie for elevenses will make short work of the shortbread Sonia spices with chai-inspired aromatics and patterns as if they’re hands hennaed for a wedding. The perfect marriage of British biscuit and Indian flavours. Aside from these nankhatai, there’s her Nan’s ‘Bounty-ful’ coconut, apricot and almond burfi and chai custard tarts that will melt your heart as they melt in your mouth.
BBC 2’s ‘Pies & Puds’ featured a host of British culinary talent with the most. When Mike Tattersall’s Indie Ices appeared on screen, presenter Paul Hollywood seemed determined to make the most of the chance to slurp a stick or two of the cracking kulfi that’s won Mike a multitude of awards and accolades.
And this year, I’m banking on Mike making the most of the interest he accrued from his well-deserved 15 minutes of fame, buying him a little more time in the spotlight. While his product choice might have been influenced by his wife’s Indian influence, this chap has created something that’s uniquely his, loved by Brits and Indians alike.
Mike already has 18 Great Taste Awards under his belt, spread across a superb selection of flavours comprising classics like Mango and Pistachio, along with innovative ices including Chocolate and Champagne. This year, he’ll be filling his time developing novel new flavours in order to fill his beloved tuk tuk Asha brimful with the coolest kulfi to come out of the British kitchen.
Green Saffron’s head masaalchi has a finger in every pilau; and his Triple A Grade Vintage Basmati rice in quite a few, too. This year, the Anglo-Indian entrepreneur will be appearing more and more frequently on British soil, as the Irish company introduces the nation to its spices, blends and sauces, and continues to build the brand outside the Emerald Isle.
I’ll be ecstatic to see more from the man who spends his life in a perpetual state of spice-induced ecstasy; evidenced by an appearance on ‘Pies & Puds’ where he attempted to convince Paul Hollywood to grate a little pepper over his trifle. His conversation is always peppered with a little wisdom – knowledge he’ll shortly share with the world within the pages of his first cookbook.
Aneesh doesn’t resemble that ‘Fast Show’ fellow who wooes women with a collection of chocs concealed inside his coat, but his wares are similarly seductive. Having already supplied his signature ‘water ganache’ truffles to both British and International royalty and a host of Michelin-starred restaurants, he’s already a success story – so where next for the cocoa-crazy chap?
Well, for starters, he’ll be literally up to his elbows ahead of Valentine’s Day, when you should insist your beloved bestows you with The Chocolatier’s rose petal drinking chocolate. Rumour has it that February also marks the launch of a brand-new soy-free chocolate spread to slather all over your toast, dunk your fingers into, and totally drown those winter blues.
Until now, fans have had to get their fix when The Chocolatier sets out his stall at markets and food shows that are far too few and far between to sate one’s cravings. Although you can order an extensive selection online, there’s nothing like getting acquainted with the products in person. I surely speak for chocolate freaks everywhere when I opine that 2014 is high time for Aneesh to hit the high street.
Recognise the surname? You should – Jamsheed is Cyrus’ eldest son. But he’s also got a lot of talent of his own to recognise. As a Central Saint Martins graduate, Jam’s pretty handy with a tool or two, and turns his hands to creating all manner of items including furniture from reconditioned and sustainable materials – some of which can be seen at Cafe Spice Namaste.
Jam can also be seen serving customers at The Park Cafe in the Hub in Victoria Park, where he’s commandeered control along with little brother Hormuzd. Cafe classics have been given a dose of ‘Desi’ – croissants with Country Captain chicken, perhaps, or the most marvellous seven-spiced chai in place of builders’ brew.
And exciting things are brewing. The cafe’s just opened with a brand new look that Jam delightedly designed over the holidays as we all slumped on the sofa munching turkey sandwiches. He’s currently inviting customers to come and take a look at Radka Bailey’s photos of Vicky Park. Why not park your behind for an hour and devour some culture as you munch on a masala omelette?
- Get the gyaan: The Park Cafe Victoria Park & Jamsheed Todiwala Design on Facebook
- Become a fan: @jamsheedt on Twitter
I have a confession to make – I’ve barely said ‘hello’ to Harrow. Yet I know from all my Indian foodie friends that it’s a neighbourhood good for the greedy. 2014 is the year for a pilgrimage to proceed, especially once chef Ashish Bhatia’s Turban Street Cafe flings open its doors serving the sort of subcontinental street food you’ll pound the pavements for – kati rolls, keema pattice and killer chai.
Ash isn’t just creative with his khana; he’s also quite a righteous writer, penning deliciously illuminating posts about Indian culinary traditions on his blog. His aim to ‘redefine street food’ with the Turban Street Cafe doesn’t seem like mere chai in the sky… After all, this guy’s already both redefining and refining Indian cuisine at Harrow’s Urban Haandi.
- Get the gyaan: Ashish’s blog & Urban Haandi’s website
- Become a fan: @chefashbhatia & @StreetTurban on Twitter
I must confess to have missed the very existence of these wonderful wallahs until I decided to research chai in the capital. And, as a huge fan of the super set-ups built by fellow street foodies Jhalmuri Express and Manjit’s Kitchen, what a shameful oversight on my part. The very sight of the stall will warm your heart like the very chai the crew will tumble into your tumbler.
The seven-spiced tea is hand-ground, served forth from a wagon featuring its own on-board soundsystem concealed within a steamer trunk on wheels which rolls up to music festivals, street fairs, and other random happenings. With such brilliant bonkersness already occurring, it’s safe to say that all manner of new Master Chai mischief will be rolled out in 2014.
Bangladesh has just been named a top travel destination by The Guardian, and Lovedesh’s leading lady Yasmin is the lass to lead you there on one of the carefully-curated trips she’s created. Before she guides a group of intrepid adventurers out there, though, she’s bringing a little Bangladesh to Britain with the Lovedesh signature Woodfired Curry Experience, as featured in Chaat! Magazine.
Yasmin’s mission is to ’smash stigma’ associated with third world countries, highlighting the cultures and traditions of her chosen destinations to show the places and people in a new light. The Woodfired Curry Experience is this woman’s way of igniting wanderlust in her pupils. It’s been a slow, steady burn for the Lovedesh brand; 2014’s workshops are sure to fan the flames nicely.
Sanjay’s on a mission to become a bit of an incredible spiceman; working alongside his mother Mrs. A to equip the nation with masala dabbas supplied by their company, Spice Kitchen. The recruiter-by-trade is fast finding his way in the world of food; and fast discovering there’s vast demand for Spice Kitchen’s services.
2014 is a big year for the Aggarwal clan, who will be filling tins with home-roasted, hand-ground spice selections as fast as their hands can pack ‘em ahead of Sanjay’s super-sized wedding this spring. In addition, this man’s mission is to learn as much as he can about all things aromatic and edible in order to feed the brand’s fans’ thirst for spicy knowledge.
Most people don’t know Nepali food beyond the momo – those divine little dumplings whose family members include Polish pierogi, Chinese potstickers and Japanese gyoza. But there’s a lot more than the momo to this cuisine; and Rajiv’s Kitchen is where you’ll find an exhaustive edible exploration served up by one of the loveliest lads in London.
The lovely lad in question will also soon be welcoming a special guest to his supperclub – legendary Gurkha chef Pemba Lama, whose ‘The Ultimate Nepalese Cookbook’ won a World Food Award. It seems Britain’s forks are poised to feast on Nepali food in 2014; enticed by the alluring combination of Indian, Chinese and Tibetan tastes. No question – Nepalese is well worth nibbling on.
So there you have it; the ones to watch for 2014. Plus, of course, you’ll need to keep eyes firmly fixed on all the usual suspects who, I suspect, will continue to do what they do so well. Look out for a few surprises from folks like Damn Good Curry’s Nilanjani Pai; Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express as she teams up with Tilda; the Duke of Delhi himself, Asif Walli; and the constantly-innovative Angus Denoon with his Everybody Love Love Jhalmuri Express.
Any of your own tips for the top?
I’ve got a few more – check out more 2014 crystal-ball gazing in my Times of India blogpost.