Getting to experiment flavours such as vegetarian chicken tikka potato wafers and guava masala juice for an evening snack, sounds strange to the ears of hardcore Indian veggies bred on leafy greens, energy drinks and cereals.
Gastronomic flavours are rooted in local cultures. Indians generally have a strong preference for masala - or spices. It is wrong to think that globalisation has opened the boundary for flavours. In fact, there has been a great deal of balkanisation in terms of tastes," Doug Tough, chairman and CEO of International Flavours & Fragrances Inc (IIF), told IANS in an interview here.
The company provides flavours and fragrance solutions to the food and beverage sector by inventing new varieties. Set up in Britain in 1833 and functioning in India for the last 80 years, IFF has set up a new facility in the NCR region to reach wider sections in this country's emerging flavours market, the CEO said.
Tough said the preference for flavours has seen a "return to the retro" post-globalisation, prompted by the nature of the country and culture concerned.
"In Brazil, oranges and lemons still remain the most popular flavours, while Indians would love tomato chips. The British love their salt-and-vinegar taste and the Americans would never say no to the cheddar cheese chip," Tough said, explaining the variations in global flavours.
The firm is working on several new flavours for the Indian snack market.
One of them is the chicken tikka potato chip, a non-vegetarian flavoured vegetarian snack. The potato wafers are dusted with chicken tikka masala, a meaty spice mix created with replicas of chemical components present in chickens. The wafers are eaten with yoghurt dip and onion rings.
Then, the paapri chaat potato chip - a flavour yet to reach the market - can be topped or dipped in the traditional 'chaat' base of yoghurt, mint and coriander chutney and sweetened tamarind juice.
Other flavours that will soon hit the market are mango lassi muffin and pineapple masala muffin in combination with guava masala juice, fizzy roseapple cooler and pomegranate ginger brew.
"The appreciation for new fruit-based flavours like litchi and pomegrenate in the beverage sector in India is rising, but masala continues to rule the palette," says flavours watcher and researcher Imtiaz Kaiser.
Just how right he is can be gauged from what top Bollywood filmmaker Ramesh Sippy said a while ago: "We're Indians. We like masala in our food and we like masala movies."
According to a 2012 prediction report by Sensient Flavours, a leading global trend spotter, the theme for flavours in the food and beverages market is "new and novel, re-invention of old flavours and a combination of flavours".
Some of the emerging flavours for 2012 are aji amarillo, a fruit-based flavour native to South America; black garlic, popular in Asian cuisine; coriander, native to the Middle East, southern Europe and Asia; pink peppercorn, a dried berry flavour; and plum, caramel and varietal vanilla, sourced from three main vanilla plants.
Bell Flavours, a 100-year-old international flavours firm, says the theme for 2012 is "emerging cultures". The company predicts that the 2012 beverages will "incorporate regional fruits, exotic herbs and rare blends to drive innovation in new concepts in the new markets".
"This is a very exciting time for the flavours industry in India," Herman Vaisman, group president of Flavours, said.
Like a lot of working families and busy individuals around the world, Indian consumers are looking for not only authentic taste and convenience but also healthier options in the food they eat, Vaisman said of the need for new flavours in the Indian food and beverage market.