For decades curry houses have been serving dishes such as chicken tikka masala, korma and vindaloo. These recipes are a big part of British culture but many of these “Indian” restaurants are now struggling as British food tastes are evolving and changing.
According to a report from Asian Network, approximately 87% of Indian restaurants in the UK are run and owned by Bangladeshis but this number is declining.
Young British Asian chefs such as, Nitisha Patel and Cynthia Shanmugalingam are fast emerging, providing authentic regional cuisine, such as Gujarati, Punjabi and Sri Lankan food.
But it’s not just about Indian food. Italian and Chinese cuisines have long vied for the top spot and new dishes are finding their way onto menus in a quest to attract new customers in response to evolving British tastes.
According to a study by Meerkat Meals, the average British person spends more than five hours each year deciding where to eat. Millions of diners avoid trying new foods because they can’t decide what to go for.
This reinforces common food shopping behaviour too where despite the huge choice on offer to consumers, the average household food repertoire is limited to just 60 items.
The survey results also showed that the average British person dines out at least once a month, with six in 10 choosing to eat at the same venue every time.
Julie Daniels, associate director of customer rewards and partnerships at Compare the Market, said: “Everyone loves dining out, and with such a wide selection of restaurants and cuisines so easily accessible, we’re a nation spoilt for choice.
“However, the seemingly-simple question of ‘What do you want to eat?’ can often become an excruciating conversation. This in turn means many are finding the whole experience difficult.”
The study also found a common barrier to trying new restaurants is the size of the dining group, with nearly half of those polled saying it’s harder to pick a place to eat when eating out with four or more people.
It also emerged that choosing where to eat as a group takes on average 25 minutes, which totals five hours over a year.
Half of those surveyed said choosing a restaurant that everyone likes “can take the fun out of the experience”.
The research also found British people prefer to eat out when they do not have to choose where to go. More than one third stated it is easier when someone else chooses the restaurant.
And Caribbean was the cuisine most British people would most like to try with a fifth of diners saying it was on top of their “must try” list.
Top 10 cuisines British people choose when dining out:
- Pub food
Top 10 cuisines British people would like to try more of when dining out:
So with this relatively fixed behaviour and reluctance to try new food experiences, where are the opportunities for new brands introducing new flavours and food experiences to market?
Unlike formal dining, snacking is in a massive state of flux and huge growth too.
Increasingly, formal meals are being replaced with all day grazing and it is these eating occasions when consumers are much more likely to try new foods.
As a consequence, street food has never been more popular and restaurants that offer sharing platters, tapas style dishes or taster menus are growing in numbers in response – combining fast service with opportunities to try eclectic foods from around the globe. And here there is a real hunger for evolving British tastes.
A cuisine that is capitalising on this trend is Peruvian with its vast array of over 500 national dishes and renowned of course for ceviche.
Lomo Saltado its most popular meat dish and is part Criollo and part Chifa. Criollo means mixed influenced and Chifa is the cuisine in Peru which blends Peruvian foods with Chinese influences.
The Chinese arrived in Peru in the 1850s to build the railways and brought with them a variety of cooking techniques and this dish is beef, flame-cooked in a wok with native ingredients like amarillo chillies, tomatoes and red onions. Its smoky flavour gives it character, but it is the sauce – a combination of Peruvian and Chinese ingredients that really make it a fabulous, must try dish.
Another cuisine enjoying high growth is Thai and the fast-expanding Giggling Squid chain offer truly authentic Thai street food through their varied and ‘designed for the eyes’ menu. Check out their lunchtime tapas menu – perfect for sharing and for trying out new dishes.