Trend alert 2021: Nostalgia in food

When it comes to the trends that are likely to pop up on our plates in 2021, ‘nostalgia in food’ is predicted to be on the top of the list. This is because people are craving everything that connects them to comfort, including their grandmother’s favourite recipes, age-old cooking methods, the art of pickling, baking etc. Perhaps, that’s one of the reasons why our social media feed is showcasing more and more people recreating recipes from their mother’s cookbooks, putting on their vintage-style aprons, baking their own bread, pickling salads in mason jars and preparing jams from scratch. And their Instagram posts and tweets are making domesticity look like the trendiest thing on the planet. And it isn’t just women who are doing this. Men are enjoying it too. Author Emily Matchar in her book Homeward Bound very aptly highlights the younger generation’s newfound mania for old-fashioned domestic work, especially slow cooking. “This return to tradition isn’t just out of fun or for pastime, but also for a sense of fulfillment and being in control of the food one consumes,” says Matcher.

Going back to your roots

The newest trend isn’t about everything new. In fact, it’s about going back to your roots and doing what your mother or grandmother did. And appreciating age-old culinary practices has turned out to be very therapeutic for many. “Cooking a traditional food item in a traditional way has a sense of nostalgia associated with it,” says psychotherapist Dr Seema Hingorrany who often spares time on weekends to cook an authentic Sindhi meal. “I am a Sindhi, but my cook is a Bihari and has no knowledge whatsoever about Sindhi food. So, I often call the old aunties of my family on Sundays, asking them for some traditional Sindhi recipes. The elaborate act of cooking these dishes from scratch not only works as a stress-buster for me, but also helps my kids know and understand our cuisine better,” says Hingorrany.

Relish the simple pleasures of eating good food

Quick-service fast foods like burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, pizzas and French fries that were a popular choice among most youngsters as well as busy professionals are now being replaced with homemade, healthier options; for example, a sandwich made from freshly-picked veggies and homemade sourdough. Bangalore-based media consultant Dean Williams is making the most of his slow life by cooking himself a meal almost every day. “Being an Anglo-Indian, I often refer to many food blogs and websites to learn Anglo cooking tricks and recipes. Nothing’s better than cooking your own food after a hard day’s work. Ball curry, yellow rice, junglee pulav, pepper water and dry fry are some of the items I cook very often. On weekends, I also spend a lot of time gardening with a glass of cold beer. It’s sheer bliss. I use a lot of fresh ingredients from my own garden for cooking. And the best thing is my dogs Bright, Zappa and Frankie are always there to give me company while I am dishing out some yummy food in the kitchen. It feels like one big family activity,” says Williams.

Forget fast, embrace slow

Due to the lockdown, people found the time to spend time with their family members over meaningful activities like cooking. We saw a lot of people embracing slow cooking techniques, learning age-old family health and cooking traditions and enjoying a meal together at the dinner table. “When it comes to slow food, there is a psychological element in food choices, meal preparation, and the act of eating. It is all about enjoying the eating experience in a very intimate space with your loved ones and thus the trend acts as a vehicle for drawing people together,” says Chef Vijay Malhotra. Additionally, freshness is the key component of the slow food technique. “It involves investing the time to pick all the fresh seasonal ingredients to make sure the meal is at its peak nutritionally,” says Dr Kurush F Dalal, assistant professor – archeology, Mumbai University.

Slow cooking is not only convenient but also helps retain the juices and delicious taste of the ingredients. “When it comes to techniques pickling, you only need to put the veggies in jars, and they need to sit on the shelf before you can eat them. The ability to “set it and forget it” means less time in the kitchen and more time with the family. It gives a great relief from the hurried life we live today. Our Indian staple meal consisting of dal, rice, roti and sabzi is also a perfect example of a slow-cooked meal as vegetables are picked fresh from the local market, dals used are seasonal and the meal is prepared in a very traditional way on the gas stove and not in the microwave or oven,” food blogger Rushina Munshaw Gildiyal.


Barley Kheer with Honey / Jhangore ki kheer

Ingredients: Pearl barley: ½ cup, Full cream milk: 8 cups, Honey: 1/2 cup.

Method: Wash and soak barley for three to four hours. Pressure cook barley in water until cooked properly. Boil milk in a heavy bottomed pan and reduce to 1 /3 of its original quantity. Add barley and cook till thickened. Make sure the mixture isn’t mushy. Cool and stir in honey.

Recipe courtesy: Food consultant Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal


Slow Food Movement was started by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in the 1980s with the aim to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how food choices affect the rest of the world. Today Slow Food represents a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries.

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