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Ethnic food trends for 2012: Indian street food and upscale Thai

(Relaxnews)- When it comes to next year’s ethnic food trends, Thai cuisine will get more sophisticated, Indian street foods will become popularized and taste buds will become more familiar with the flavors of Eastern Europe.

Those are the predictions of trendspotting analysts Andrew Freeman & Co., based in San Francisco, who issued their forecasts in food for 2012.

While Thai cuisine is now firmly entrenched in food scenes around the world, fine dining chefs will upgrade Thai flavors onto their menus, elevating their status from pad Thai takeout to silver-spooned fare.

Lobster bisque, for example, may take on a Thai makeover with the infusion of Kaffir lime, lemongrass and coconut milk, Freeman points out.

Noodles too, will become more exciting, with Chinese restaurants tapping into the theatrics of hand-pulled noodles, an ancient art that requires skill to master.

“It’s dinner and a show,” the report says.

Indian street food also provides plenty of opportunity for forward-thinking entrepreneurs looking for the next big thing in flavorful, quick-service fare. Vada pav sandwiches, for instance, are portable and popular in parts of India. The vegetarian sandwich consists of Indian-spiced, deep-fried potato croquettes stuffed in a roll.

Likewise, Kati rolls leave room for ample experimentation. Indian flat bread is rolled around fillings such as egg, potato, paneer or curried chicken to become what Western diners would consider a wrap sandwich.

And finally, palates will become better acquainted with Eastern European fare from places like Hungary and the Czech Republic, with jazzed up paprika-spiked goulash and cabbage, pork and dumplings appearing on menus next year.

Thai flavors are predicted to go upscale next year with fine dining chefs availing themselves of that country's cuisine to jazz up their menu. ©Rohit Seth/shutterstock.com

There are few similarities between the Freeman report and Baum + Whiteman, another trendspotting group that had a decidedly different take on where ethnic food is heading.

In their analysis, the flavors of Korean cuisine are poised to make it the food of 2012, while Peruvian gastronomy will begin to land on the radars of chefs and diners alike for its unique fusion of Asian and Latin American flavors.

Japanese immigrants, for example, invented Nikkei cuisine — a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian gastronomy — while Chinese immigrants created their own version, known as Chifa cuisine.

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