Masala Wrap

Locally Yours:While 'organic' has been a buzz word for the last couple of years, 2012 saw it being coupled with 'local', as chefs and restaurateurs looked to their own backyards for ingredients. Enterprising local farmers rose magnificently to the occasion, rearing everything from fresh oregano to live ostriches (with the latter, surprisingly, finding several takers).

Breakfast Du Jour:Forget breakfasting like a king, it's breakfasting like a high-powered executive that's currently in vogue. Restaurants across the country are putting on their best morning faces to cater to an increasingly health and time conscious clientele. Chef Shamsul Wahid of Smoke House Deli (which has multiple locations in Delhi and Mumbai) said, "We've seen an exponential increase in the number of breakfast clients, whether its executives having a business meeting, a society occasion or simply friends catching up. Our breakfast menu is a huge crowd-puller and so we're concentrating a lot of our attention on that segment, and have started opening the restaurant from 8am".

Foreign Fancy:While the West is still reeling from the effects of the economic downturn and Asia is beginning to feel the pinch, the fact remains that India has a lot of disposable income burning a hole in its pockets. Foreign food and beverage players are capitalising on this and rushing to offer their wares to an increasingly rapacious Indian market. From the uber-luxury Cavalli Cafe opening its second outpost in the world in Delhi (the first property being in Venice) to the infinitely more pocket-friendly Portugal-based Nando's fast-food chain, all have high hopes from our desi appetites.

Booze Boom:This year, foreign alcohol flooded India's shores like a tsunami, leading to hangovers of epic proportions and several broken promises of never drinking again. The country's Dionysian tribe quaffed in plenty and evolved their palate to become more discerning drinkers, and correspondingly, worse drivers. Flavoured vodkas were all the rage, as were liqueurs and imported spirits. Absinthe, raki, the infamous Jagermeister, all adorned bar walls and party tables. Ice luges were introduced, even as whiskey fetishists realised that there is an entire universe of scotch beyond Johnnie Walker.

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