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Chef David Rocco: Indian culture reflects in its cuisine

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New Delhi: David Rocco, Italian-Canadian chef visited India five times in the last three years and calls India his “second home”. It’s interesting how the culture of the country reflects through its cuisine, he said.

Rocco has explored India as part of a TV show for channel FOX Life. For the second season of the Italian-Indian culinary adventure “David Rocco Dolce India”, he returned to the nation and visited lesser-known locales to uncover some hidden gems.

“It was really cool discovering these unique and diverse communities throughout India and seeing how their cultural influences are reflected in the cuisine,” Rocco said in an email interview from Toronto.

Through his show, which airs in over 150 countries including India, he introduces viewers to the Portuguese influence in Goa, the Chinese community in Kolkata and the holiest of Punjabi traditions in Amritsar, while sampling plenty of culinary delights along the way.

“I was first introduced to Indian food many years ago, but having Indian food in India is a totally different experience than outside of India. And of course making my first Indian dish was a little intimidating, but I’ve learnt a lot since then in terms of ingredients and technique.

“In season two of my show, I’m much more comfortable with the process and I really start to play around with certain dishes, combining flavours that north and south Indians might never have even thought to work with,” said Rocco, whose first attempt at Indian food was a ‘dal’ (lentil) and he found it “pretty straightforward” in making.

The author of three cookbooks, Rocco has travelled the world over. But he said “I’m attracted to India for its diversity and the warmth of its people”.

He is also fascinated with the importance given to food and family in the Indian culture, which he finds “so diverse, from region to region”.

In his show, he says he fuses his own style of cooking with Indian ingredients as “inspiration”.

“You could call it the easy Indian approach. I’m really being an ambassador to the people outside of India, helping them see how accessible Indian cooking can be,” he added, stressing that localisation of global cuisine is “an incredibly common thing around the world”.

“For instance, McDonalds is different everywhere you go! If you look at Italian food, you can get it pretty much everywhere in the world lasagne, pizza and pasta are probably some of the most universally liked dishes that you can get in any major city across the globe. Is it authentic? Most likely not.

“But if someone truly enjoys the taste of the ‘local’ version, or it inspires them to take up cooking or even take a trip to Italy some day, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”(IANS)(image:davidrocco.com)

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Vikas Khanna’s Upcoming Book To Focus On Grains And Northeast

Khanna also prepared recipes using Quaker Whole Oats, a new variant made from "uncut A grade oats"

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Vikas Khanna's Upcoming Book To Focus On Grains And Northeast
Vikas Khanna's Upcoming Book To Focus On Grains And Northeast, flickr

Michelin-starred Chef Vikas Khanna, who was here for a masterclass and launch of Quaker Whole Oats, says his next book will focus on grains and will also talk about India’s northeast region which he feels still holds its rich culture intact through food.

“My next thing (book) is only about grains and about north east. They are a culture which inspite of being modernised still holds on to the value of their grains and how they do farming. I was obssessed with their fish paddy farming,” Khanna, also PepsiCo India’s nutrition ambassador, told IANS on the sidelines of the event here.

At the event, Khanna also prepared recipes using Quaker Whole Oats, a new variant made from “uncut A grade oats”.

With the aim to showcase oats as an appetising and nutritious breakfast option, Khanna’s masterclass took food enthusiasts on an experiential journey. He used two recipes.

The Thandai Oats was loaded with the richness of dry fruits and aromatic ingredients, layered together with overnight soaked whole oats, spinach puree and topped with candied nuts.

grains
grains, Pixabay

The Curd Oats with Parmesan crisp was a mix of dried herbs, spices, cherries, plums, and baby vegetables like broccoli, beans, beetroots, carrots, cauliflower and corn, which gave regular “dahi” a makeover and amped it up for a tastier version.

Asked about how aware people have become when it comes to not skipping breakfast, Khanna said: “I think because of Internet and because of media, there is whole lot of awareness… The industry is changing because of requirement of people,” he said.

Also read: Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna joins Amritsar Farmers for Diwali at ‘Organic Diwali Farmers Fest’

“Breakfast is essential and everybody needs to understand that if stomach is empty, brain starts becoming extremely aggressive,” he added. (IANS)