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Chilis, tea and masala: McCormick unveils top flavor trends for 2014

By Maggie Hennessy , 04-Dec-2013
Last updated the 04-Dec-2013 at 15:11 GMT

The flavors of India and Central and South America will have a big impact in 2014, as will consumers’ growing fascination with chiles, according to McCormick & Co. Inc.’s 2014 Flavor Forecast. 

The report, developed annually by McCormick chefs, culinary professionals, trend trackers and food technologists worldwide, highlights top food trends and emerging flavors predicted to impact the way we eat in the coming years.

Chiles and compact kitchens

One such trend is a growing obsession with chilies. "Everywhere we looked, people have a growing fascination with the delicious range of flavors and heat chile peppers deliver," said McCormick executive chef Kevan Vetter. "In the US, cooks are embracing exciting new varieties like the aji amarillo from Peru, which is prized for its sizzling heat and surprisingly full-bodied, fruity notes."

Other chiles to watch, according to McCormick, are the mildly flavored chiles de arbol and guajillo chiles from Mexico and the hot Sichuan tien tsim chile.

As more and more consumers move to urban environments, compact kitchens demand multiuse ingredients to be used in clever new ways, according to McCormick. Versatile, underutilized ingredients include tea, which is gaining popularity beyond sipping into rubs, broths and marinades; versatile cilantro/coriander; and as well as noodles, which can be incorporated into soups, casseroles, stir fries and salads.

Global cuisines exert their influence

Indian food is having its global moment, with modern interpretations of this richly spiced cuisine coming to the fore, according to McCormick. Among the flavors and ingredients to explore are Kasmihiri masala, a blend of spices from northern India including cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and ginger; paneer, a mild, fresh cheese; and jalfrezi, a stir fry-style curry dish.

Central and South American flavors are also gaining worldwide popularity, led by the casual, bright cuisine of Mexico and Brazil’s blend of global and native flavors.

As more Americans explore the regional flavors of Mexico, some lesser known preparations and ingredients are entering the mainstream. Chamoy sauce—a unique Mexican condiment made from apricot, lime, chilies and spices—is just beginning to gain a following in the US; tomatillos, a member of the gooseberry family with a lemony flavor and tomato-like appearance; and recados, or spice pastes made popular in the Yucatan that contain ingredients such as achiote(annatto), sour orange and a blend of spices.

A melting pot of European, African, Asian and Amazonian influences, Brazil is poised to emerge as a powerful global influence (and will play host to the World Cup in 2014). Ingredients on the rise include cassava flour, the gluten-free staple that’s also known as manioc or tapioca flour and prized for its versatility; guava, the tropical fruit used in fresh, nectar and paste form; black-eyed peas; and tempero Baiano, a Bahian seasoning blend containing oregano, parsley, varieties of pepper and cumin.

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