CHICAGO — Several flavor companies and market researchers have tagged Indian cuisine and the flavors associated with it as key trends in 2024. Recent news around golden milk indicates the trend may be gaining momentum.  

Baltimore magazine kicked off the New Year with a Food & Drink article headlined “Golden milk lattes are taking winter menus by storm.” And Yahoo recently published “Turmeric golden milk is the traditional Indian home remedy you can drink anytime.”

Golden milk is an Indian beverage known as haldi doodh, which is non-caffeinated and has a bright gold color. The color is the result of adding yellow turmeric into white cows’ milk. Historically served warm, and often as a nighttime beverage, modern versions include iced lattes and smoothies, with or without other such spices as cardamon, cinnamon or ginger, and some kind of sweetener like honey. The beverage also may be referred to as turmeric milk to emphasize the addition of the ayurvedic plant-based ingredient.

That’s what it’s called at McDonald’s Corp.’s new CosMc’s concept. The small-format, beverage-led business’ menu offers turmeric spiced lattes in iced and hot varieties, with choice of cows’ milk or dairy alternative. CosMc’s menu is focused on beverage exploration, with bold and unexpected flavor combinations, vibrant colors and functional boosts. It’s also helping to take turmeric mainstream.

Turmeric powder has a black pepper-like flavor with an earthy, mustard-like aroma. It has been used in Indian culture for centuries as a remedy for the common cold, inflammation and an upset stomach. It functions as an antioxidant due to the presence of curcumin and is associated with immunity and improving overall health.

“Although global flavors are trending across the board, there are a few that stand out as the most sought after by consumers right now,” said Shannon Cushen, director of marketing, Fuchs North America, Hampstead, Md. “Flavors inspired by Indian cuisine, for example, have been trending due to a variety of factors. First of all, Indian cuisine has been becoming more mainstream, making it approachable and less intimidating to consumers who aren’t so adventurous. At the same time, however, Indian cuisine is more exotic than other mainstream global cuisines, which is appealing to adventurous consumers.

“Additionally, Indian cuisine features complex spicy flavor profiles, vibrant colors, plant-based ingredients and spices — like turmeric — that are trending for their potential health benefits, all of which are popular with consumers.”

Turmeric is gaining traction in foodservice and prepared meals. Research from Tastewise, Tel Aviv, Israel, indicates the golden milk flavor is associated with vegan foods and is starting to appear in snacks and ice cream formulations.

Dr. Bronner’s, Vista, Calif., features golden milk in its new line Magic All-One Chocolate made with oat milk. The vegan confection was created for health-minded and ethically conscious customers, said Michael Bronner, president. The chocolate is made from cocoa beans grown using regenerative organic farming practices. The Golden Milk Chai bar includes turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger.

“Our new plant-based oat milk chocolate offers the smooth, creamy texture and sweetness milk chocolate lovers desire,” Bronner said. “We seek to model how chocolate can be sourced ethically, by respecting labor and the environment.”