Best Media Info

Editor’s Picks

Eid Mubarak: If it’s Eid, it must be biryani

Can biryani open the doors for ‘Dinner Tourism’, offering MMT and Yatra an opportunity to diversify to the food delivery business as yet another leg of experience fulfilment?

In the world city of Calcutta, where I think from, biryani is the inevitable dinner on Eid night. It is unconnected to religion, instead embedded deeply in gourmand affections, a tradition which is now routine. The post corona world will sincerely seek ingredients for unification and food is one such compelling candidate.

Call for entries open for BuzzInContent Awards 2020 ENTER NOW

Biryani, per se, is a fine illustration of the possibilities, especially in the sadly-ravaged home state. Old-timers will give due credit to a restaurant called Aminia, near new Market, which introduced the unfamiliar to the wonders of this craft. Rather rapidly, in the 1970s, it became a lovable part of multi-religious wedding feasts, delicious merit overwhelming the traditional suspects. Enthused by rapid adoption, biryani today is the official celebratory dish of Bengal – sports days, conferences, kitty parties, memorials, birthdays and, of course, the nuptials. As a brand, biryani is an educative case study, of how good taste triumphs over bad, literally and societally.

In urban palates, provoked by exposure and wellness, global foods have arrived with a bustling bang. The Lebanese ensemble, hummus and falafel, is today a solicited appetiser, replacing the kebab and munchies quite effortlessly. A recent research ascribed this diversion to a perception of safe indulgence, in desirable tandem with lifestyle values. While sushi, intuitively un-Indian for its uncooked demeanour, is appealing to teenager and adult alike, a candy-like eccentricity. Korean bibimbap manages to enthuse meats with ample vegetables, the doctor’s prescription finding action in the chef’s curation. Noodles have graduated from the greasy chow to the elegant Udon, Japan as influential as China.

What is true for visa-needing delights is appropriate for the Indian varieties as well with the upma and poha becoming breakfast favourites, surely tougher barriers to overcome. As the first meal of the day is usually at home, the bastion of the egg routine or the ethnic familiarity. Super foods have emerged from what were pedantic staples, the sheen of marketing elevating an aged truth. In fine and even ordered dining, the regions have opened up considerably, the Royal Vega restaurants of the ITC chain incubating lesser-known vegetarian fare. While a cursory glance at aggregator home pages, especially via cloud kitchens, reveal a penchant for eclectic curiosities rapidly becoming celebratory preferences.

The challenge quite clearly is to connect the joys of experimentation with the integrity of unification, seemingly far-fetched but surprisingly aligned. Each time we travel, we get closer to the folks we visit and each time we eat, we build a bridge with the culture where the recipe is from. In normal times, this does seem to be a good-to-know by-product but in such trying times, culinary wanderlust can actually be a fabulous recipe for the beleaguered restaurant and tourism industries. Welcome then to the world of Dinner Tourism, an integrated initiative by tourism boards, restaurants, home chefs and fulfilment aggregators.

The core objective of Dinner Tourism is to present authentic flavours in the security of your dining room, allowing both palate and imagination to wander till flights can safely resume. Imagine now, every tourism board attractive to Indians, building affiliations with restaurants in every significant city, as experience partnerships. The Italian Tourism fellows forging bridges with pizzerias and cafes in Delhi, via Roman eateries, sharing original recipes with local chefs and supervising the process digitally. Similar initiatives by Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, USA, UK, UAE, Sri Lanka and every possible credible outbound destination – tie up local exponents with Indian restaurants, share recipes formally and ensure home delivery. What is true for the world will be true within India as well, the finest eateries sharing optimal IP with partners in other cities – thus incubating a credible sense of authenticity. I struggle to get Calcutta biryani outside Calcutta, a rather ridiculous scenario if you consider the development of the Indian F&B industry.

You may well ask will such overt associations hamper the credibility and uniqueness of the restaurants and destinations? To the contrary, it will only increase the allure of the origins, a steady stream of beloved Italian cuisine enhancing our yearning for Rome. In fact, such authentic renditions will act as multi-sensorial trailers, satiating the present while salivating for the future. Dinner Tourism will be a major booster for every economic actor currently under the hammer – the restaurants in India getting a stimulus, the tourism infrastructure elsewhere ensuring emotional continuity, the aggregators guaranteed of traffic. In fact, MMT and Yatra can diversify to the food delivery business – as yet another leg of experience fulfilment, Zomato and Swiggy are of course available.

In a world as now, we must demolish copybook insecurities in order to survive and thrive. Dinner Tourism is designed to bring authentic gourmet experiences to your doorstep, as a here-and-now indulgence as well as a continuing reminder of the imminent normalcy. Local restaurants will gain in knowhow and business, the distant restaurants will keep their relevance ticking for future monetisation and perhaps knowledge revenues, the aggregators (old and new) will be enthused and the tourism boards able to pursue a viable strategy. Most importantly, the customer will be truly delighted, closest-to-origin dining at her own table, a happy precursor of explorations to follow.

Dinner tonight will possibly not be biryani — a function of the heatwave, inflationary mutton and physician’s restraint. But one day soon, a deferred Eid dinner will certainly happen, hearty greetings must suffice for now.

(The writer is the Managing Director of Inexgro Brand Advisory, which provides strategic guidance and brand solutions to regional and global brands. In his previous roles, Dasgupta served as Group Chief Strategy Officer of Havas Group India and Executive Vice-President and Head of Contract Advertising, Delhi. He held senior management positions in Rediffusion and JWT India, spearheading many successful client assignments.)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

Post a Comment