Italy lays out pasta, cheese for Delhi homes

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) The two-minute noodles of our childhood is making way for the 10-minute pasta, cheese and sauce. Italy is hardselling its packaged food to middle class Delhi homes, many of which don’t mind digging into the quick meals on busy weekdays and lazy weekends.

Trying to create a perfect Italian meal is more than just buying pasta and olive oil. Which is why chefs have been flown in from Italy to help the housewife make sense of all the exotica lying on her kitchen table.

So what does one do after buying that pasta packet?

‘It is easy. All that one needs to remember is the magic number 1110 – one litre of water for 100 gm of pasta and 10 gm of salt,’ says master pasta chef Gianfranco Angelilo from Rome, who was in the capital to demonstrate Italian pasta recipes.

Try beating a pesto sauce with basil, parsley, olive oil and pine nuts and a clove of garlic for a light flavour, he said.

The promotional campaign is a part of the ‘European Art of Taste: The Taste of Europe on Indian Soil’ – a three-year programme launched by the European Union and Italy last year – aimed at promoting the best of Italian pasta, cheese, olive oil, sauces and wine in the Indian market to cash in on the instant food boom and changing lifestyles.

The programme is educating the HoReCa sector – hotels, restaurants and cafes – as well as the domestic consumer about the importance of the country or region of origin of a food product or wine and how the quality of food differs across European geographies.

It is taking the products to suburban home clusters, with live cookery demonstrations and ‘tasting afternoons’, targeting the huge consumer base of housewives and young professionals. The programme is already under way in Mumbai and Bangalore.

Nature’s Basket, an organic food retail vend inaugurated in the Defence Colony area of the capital last week, is also an effort to introduce to Indians – who have lapped up the pizza -more varieties of Italian food. And none of the products cost more than Rs.250.

This year, the European Art of Taste has brought four food products to India – pasta made of 100 percent durum wheat, olive oil of certified origin, Provolone Valpadana cheese from southern Italy and fruity-flavoured light and heavy wines from the Piedmont region.

The promotion is themed on a classical Italian pasta, cheese and wine combination as a complete quick meal.

The chef offers another recipe.

‘Toss the cooked pasta in a wok with the green pesto sauce till it blends well. The pasta is ready to serve. The combined process of boiling the pasta, whipping up the sauce and and tossing it barely takes 10 minutes. Eat the pasta with pesto sauce (made of crushed basil leaves and a bit of parsley to retain the freshness) with a light wine,’ the chef said.

‘Provolone cheese, available in semi-circular slabs, can be diced into thin fillets and rolled like chapatis with a choice of shredded vegetables like carrot julienne, greens and a small sprig of parsley. For those with a fetish for meat, the cheese can be rolled with turkey breasts and carrots julienne,’ chef Angelilo said.

The chef also suggested a variation to suit Indian tastes.

‘For the green homes, vegetables like cauliflower, peas and tomatoes can be tossed with pesto sauce or lightly cooked in extra virgin olive oil and flavoured with fennel. The Provolone cheese can also be served with honey,’ chef Angelilo told IANS.

While the pasta can be paired with a light wine, the cheese rolls can be complemented with a heavy wine, Harshal Shah, a wine steward, told IANS.

Another easy but classic Italian snack that is easy to cook in Indian kitchens is the vegetable sticks with dips with carrot sticks, celery, asparagus, olive oil, red chilli powder, salt and balsamic vinegar, the chef said.

Two of the reasons why Italian food adapts itself to Indian homes are its ‘affordability, simplicity and health quotient’, he said.

‘In the last five years, we have seen a sharp increase in the demand for olive oil in middle class households in India because it has a high smoking point and is low on bad cholesterol and saturated fats. The pungent flavour also kills germs. It is used every day,’ Karan Arora, director of Delhi-based Mass Impex, an importer and supplier of Italian Monini extra virgin olive oil, told IANS.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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