Over the years, restaurant users have become more discerning and more concerned with the ‘authenticity’ of their restaurant experience, a number of restaurant trends have emerged that offer a more realistic reflection of the food from its country of origin.
For the last couple of decades, far eastern food from various countries has increased in popularity, with many towns now having a Thai restaurant and perhaps even a Japanese restaurant. There has even been a trend for seeing authentic Thai food served on pub menus as Thai families take over pub tenancies or simply run the kitchen.
Japanese food has been a huge foodie trend in the UK, with most supermarkets selling packs of sushi alongside their sandwiches – although if that’s the only sushi you’ve tried (especially as the packs from a certain high end supermarket do not contain fish!) then you’ll be amazed at the difference in quality and taste when you first try ‘proper’ sushi. After all, sushi chefs train for seven years just to master making rice, let alone cutting fish!
The latest restaurant trends are towards South American food. Not just the big, juicy steaks from Argentina – that is SO 2007 – but more the smoked chipotle chile flavours of Peru. Mexico has also been a source of inspiration for a lot of newly opened places, with authentic burritos and salsas showing the wealth of difference between regional cuisine and the ‘Tex-Mex’ style that was popular in the 1999.
Rogan josh is another all time favourite on the curry house menu. It was originally a Kashmiri dish but is equally at home in the Punjab. An authentic rogan josh will be made with lamb and may, at its most elaborate, contain dozens of spices. The Kashmiri and Punjabi versions do differ (the Kashmiri does not traditionally contain onions or garlic) but they are both highly spiced and share a deep red colour derived from the liberal use of dried red Kashmiri chillies.
The curry house rogan is also red but the colour comes from red peppers and tomatoes rather than Kashmiri chillies. The restaurant rogan is characterised by its garnish of tomato pieces and fresh coriander. It is usually medium hot.
Saag gosht is a classic curry traditionally made with spinach and lamb. Saag is, strictly speaking, a general term for tender green leaves such as spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves.
If you were talking about spinach on its own it would be called palak. Many restaurants these days will offer a chicken or a prawn alternative to lamb and so the dish will show on the menu as just "saag" or "palak" omitting the gosht (lamb) from the name altogether.
The saag is usually served medium hot and is made in the bhuna style.
Derived from a court dish of the Moghul emperors the pasanda is traditionally made with thinly sliced and marinated lamb fillets.
It is sometimes called lamb badam pasanda because the dish contains ground almonds, the "badam" of the title.
The restaurant pasanda is usually quite mild and contains ground almonds, cardamon pods, puréed tomatoes and cream.
Like it's more famous cousin, dhansak, patia is a Parsee dish. A traditional Parsee patia is made with fish cooked in a dark vinegar sauce.
The restaurant patia is hot, sweet and sour in equal measure. The restaurant patia grew popular as a starter using prawns ( shrimps) as the main ingredient. Many restaurants now offer the patia as a main course as well and give you the choice of a prawn, chicken or lamb version. It is usually garnished with fried tomato pieces.
Red onions, sometimes called purple onions, are cultivars of the onion with purplish red skin and white flesh tinged with red.
These onions tend to be medium to large in size and have a mild to sweet flavor. They are often consumed raw, grilled or lightly cooked with other foods, or added as color to salads. They tend to lose their redness when cooked.
Red onions are available throughout the year. The red color comes from anthocyanidins such as cyanidin. Red onions are high in flavonoids.They can be stored 3 to 4 months at room temperature.
The red onion from Turda (Cluj County, Central Romania) is a local variety of red onion with light sweeter taste and particular aroma. The area of cultivation encompass the lower Arieş valley and the middle Mureş valley. Turda onion bulbs are traditionally intertwined into long strings (1–2 m) for marketing purposes and can be found at the traditional markets all over central Romania. "Turda Red Onion" is usually served fresh, as a salad or part of mixed salads and especially as a compulsory garnish for the traditional bean-and-smoked ham soups. Red onions are sometimes used as treatments for colds, diarrhea, intestinal parasites, gallstones, and rheumatism.
The red onion from Tropea, Italy, (Italian: "Cipolla Rossa di Tropea") is a particular variety of red onion which grows in a small area of Calabria in southern Italy named "Capo Vaticano" near the city of Tropea. This onion has a stronger and sweeter aroma and the inner part is juicier and whiter than other red onions and it is possible to make a marmalade with it. In March 2008, the European Union registered the Protected Designation of Origin mark for the onions produced in this particular area.