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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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Find out The Must-Try Dishes In Israel

The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian

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Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian. Wikimedia Commons

If your travel itinerary is based on your taste buds, then Israel is your dream destination. The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian.

This food is blessed by the Mediterranean sun and topped off with garnishes of crisp fruits, nuts and vegetables. The fresh dairy products and meats are a great reason to feast upon.

Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
Falafel is a vey famous Israeli dish. Wikimedia Commons

IANS Life picks out some must-try dishes in Israel :-

Challah – A Jewish ceremonial bread, braided and brushed with egg white and baked to perfection

Sabich – Pita pockets stuffed to the brim with crispy fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, creamy hummus and tahini, along with salad and pickles. The sandwich is an absolute favourite among locals and a top pick street food, when you’re in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem Bagel – Unlike typical bagels, this one is elongated, soft, slightly sweet and similar to regular bread. Vendors sell freshly baked Jerusalem Bagels all over the streets of the Old City, usually accompanied with some za’atar

Bourekas – Similar to the Indian samosa, potato, cheese or spinach stuffed triangles of filo-dough, topped with toasted sesame seeds. Head to Leon and Sons in Jaffa for a taste of this flaky treat.

Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
Early-Morning Scene in Mahane Yehuda Market – Jerusalem – Israel. Wikimedia Commons

Khachapuri – This traditional Georgian dish in Mahane Yehuda Market is made with eggs and cheese is combined in an eye shaped dough. Dip the outer crust in the rich and oozing centre of egg and cheese.

Rugelach – Made with chocolate, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts or fruits. Head to Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem to dig into this oozing chocolate filled delight.

Sambusak – Mashed chickpeas, onions and spices wrapped in a triangular dough pocket. For an Indian style sambusak, visit Tandoor in Tel Aviv.

Shakshuka – Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers and is often spiced with cumin and topped off with freshly cut herbs. Head to Dr. Shakshuka and swipe your bread across the pan to pick up the runny egg drenched sauce.

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Halva – Israel is known for its incredible variety of halvas made with sesame.

Ash Tanur – A sourdough flatbread, made without yeast and sugar and best eaten with some fresh local herbs and spices.

Fresh juices – From the juicy pomegranates to citrusy oranges, Israel prides itself on serving fresh and flavourful juices. Tamara is one of the many popular juice stands in Tel Aviv. (IANS)