In recent years, Mediterranean and Asia Pacific flavors have become more mainstream, with diners indulging in the Hawaiian dish poke and falafel rice bowls at restaurants like Cava.
However, in 2019 you’ll likely see more of a North African and Middle Eastern influence. Harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, is already enticing diners in 2018.
“These blends offer not just heat, but lots of heady Silk Road flavors,” Michael Whiteman, president of Baum+Whiteman, a restaurant consultancy, told CNBC. The Silk Road is an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West and brought spices from Africa and Asia up to Europe.
Consumers, particularly younger ones, have been more adventurous with their food choices in recent years, opting for experiential occasions and not just traditional fare. This desire for bold, new flavors has given rise to more global ingredients entering the U.S. culinary space.
Keep an eye out for the bold flavors of the Egyptian condiment dukkah, Ethiopian spice mix berbere and North African spice mix ras el hanout as they’ll start to hit menus this year, if they haven’t already.