Indian cuisines needed to be taken to the global audience through roadshows and seminars for creating more awareness around nation’s most unique tourism offering, suggested Anil Bhandari. He advocated meticulous documentation of cuisines and dishes by state governments to develop standardization and make them an important instrument in attracting tourists.
How can Indian cuisines help promote India as a destination? How can culinary tourism be strengthened as a segment of our offerings?
With respect to culinary tourism, first thing that comes to mind is making Indian cuisines popular across the world. We need to tell the world how many thousands of cuisines exist in India, and what value these cuisines have. We cook food in India which is very good for health. We use turmeric, basil and so many other ingredients that are very good for health. So, Indian food is very healthy and nutritious food. This message has to first go across the world to people.
Second is to popularise. We must hold food festivals across the world. It is one step we could take. Each state government should create a recipe book of their own after a thorough research on the number of dishes they have. It is a job. Governments do it for monuments. Here you are doing it for cuisines available in the region.
State could come up with 200-300 dishes, because there are so many dishes and within the state, too, and so many variations and ways of cooking it. We must have the Institute of Hotel Management or the Indian Culinary Institute standardize and authenticate those recipes. Then that information can be put across in books and digital platforms and food and cultural festivals could be organised – we can combine the two elements together.
I did this way back in 1986, when I carried the first food festival of India to the USA with 41 chefs. It was a great experience when we had only one Indian restaurant in the Washington city, today we have hundreds of them. It is a great way to popularize India. You cannot forget food; it will never get erased.
What should be the way forward on the central government front?
The Ministry of Tourism should hold seminars on food in culinary institutes across the world. We need people to teach Indian cuisines to make them popular, because then they will start cooking it. It is a very common practice. Italians did it in India, that is why you see Pasta becoming so popular. The Japanese government is sending chefs to India, and training our chefs over there. We need to do the same – and I can tell you that the number of people visiting India will grow. Because people love food. It is a passion for young and elderly alike.
The future is about healthy food and Indian cuisines can make them happy and healthy.
How can the industry do its bit in using culinary elements to create more footfalls?
Look at our chef Sanjeev Kapoor, he has a food channel. So, he is promoting Indian cuisines. Every media house in the country today has, at least, one or two programs on food. Now they need to reach out to international masses through foreign television channels. Some of them are already there, others are not.
It will take some time, but we must continue with the process of making it more popular through electronic and social media. Media needs to write about the benefits of Indian food. Vegetarianism is the trend of the future. At least fifteen percentage of Americans have turned vegetarian. I think there is a great opportunity. We should promote the incredible Indian cuisines.