By Adeela Akmal
Tue, 12, 19

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” –– George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman....


What George said more than 100 years ago still resonates with most of us today. For foodies like myself, trying new and different varieties, while embracing our traditional cuisine, is an exciting experience. While there are plenty of foods out there that will always be huge fan favourites – think biryani, pizza, burgers etc - there are a slew of food trends that come and go as the years go by. And thanks to the global influences seeping in our cultures, it doesn’t take long for these trends from around the world to wind up somewhere in our dine-ins or roadside kiosks. From genius fusions dishes and healthy meals to downright absurdity on a plate, here is a round-up of food trends in 2019...

Going organic

2019 was big on healthy eating and adopting eco-friendly practices. As we spoke about climate change and reducing plastic usage, many cafes and restaurants welcomed this change. Instead of plastic straws, paper and metal straws were introduced. Some cafes offered discounts for people who brought their own take-away mug to discourage using disposable mugs. Apart from that, vegetarian dishes are now becoming widely acceptable amidst its meaty counterparts.

Apart from eating outside, folks in Pakistan are happily starting their own kitchen garden to grow their own little produce. This is a welcome trend that we see getting very popular in 2020.

Fat is the new phat

The keto diet was arguably the biggest diet of the year, with everyone swapping out carbs for high-fat options in order to lose weight and stay healthy. Because of that, keto-friendly foods took over the market, and everyone was looking for them in the supermarket and in online recipes.

Eateries took this as an opportunity to offer customers special keto meals on their menu.

Matka Chai

When it comes to chai, we’re the kind of nation that gasps in disbelief if someone says ‘no’ to tea, let alone not like it.

I didn’t think there was a way that chai could get better, but then it did. 2019 was the year that brought us ‘Matka chai’ or ‘Tandoori chai’.

Going back to our traditional roots, the chai is served in hot terracotta mugs - that are heated or baked in a tandoor – which gives the drink a distinct earthy flavour.

And when the days started getting chilly, many vendors started selling matka coffee as well. No matter where you get your fix, the experience is always incredible.

Quirky fast food

When it comes to burger joints and pizza places, we have reached a point where we have run out of names for them. So, nowadays it’s not just about having the best food, it’s about offering the quirkiest food and a complementing ambiance – something very Instagrammable. To make things interesting, eateries offer crazy combos that are either a hit or a massive fail. The good ones that we witnessed were Nashville style chicken & waffles, crispy chicken in waffle cones and chimney cones – sweet and savoury both. Other than that, pizza fries were really popular all throughout the year from big food chains to every street vendor. One combination that I wasn’t a fan of was the donut burger and the hype was all gone as soon as it came.

Sweet indulgence

Coming to the best part of the meal, like the savouries this year, desserts had a fun element to it too. From churros, crepes and waffles to Japanese cheesecake and ice cream tacos, 2019 did not disappoint. Personally, I enjoyed cheesecakes – especially the authentic New York Cheesecake – since they aren’t too sweet. Unfortunately, the jiggly Japanese cheesecakes are not available widely throughout the country, but many have made the effort to get their hands on this treat. The dessert itself is not something out of the ordinary, but the experience surely is.

Adieu, foods!

While 2019 offered us many great items to try, there were some that we have had enough of. These are some items that we won’t miss in 2020...

Burger-bun kabab crossover: Okay, let’s settle one thing. There’s a fine line between a burger and a bun kabab, and you do not need to cross it. I remember the first time I had a bun kabab that had mayonnaise in it. I almost gagged and exclaimed, “Yeh bun kabab main mayo kon daalta hai?! Chutney hoti hai isme bas.” Apparently, mayo was the new cool of the early 2000s which the vendors were adding to it. And I absolutely hated it! (The questionable ketchup was an exception, though) I still feel the same way. So, imagine my horror as I saw fast food places launching their version of bun kababs few months ago.

I begrudgingly tried one of them (not by choice); and even though I was starving, I thought it was just okay. Not only are these versions are pricey, they don’t even offer any value or the right flavours for that matter.

Heart attack on a plate: Even though nalli biryani has been selling for almost two decades, it started making rounds on social media in 2018. Since then, its popularity heightened, and it followed us well into 2019. While the nalli biryani is still a quite popular dish, the hype for it has slowly died down.

If you like fatty, greasy food, you may like this one. It’s advisable to practice moderation because the dish is a proverbial ‘heart attack on a plate’.

Rainbow foods & monstrosity: Another hype that we’ll bid farewell to is the monster shakes and the ridiculously large food items (like huge burgers, sandwiches and ice creams). And as we are moving towards organic foods, the popularity of artificial colouring and rainbow foods is going down. That’s not to say they won’t be popular next year, but these have definitely enjoyed a moment they probably won’t have again soon.