Some of the toughest troops in the world have fallen in love with Indian culinary delights. In an outstanding endorsement of Indian menu, chicken tikka and samosa have become the staple diet for the Israeli Defence Forces.
<b1>If Indian food has found its way around Israeli barracks, the credit goes to an Indian lady who made Tel-Aviv her home 25 years ago. Born in New Delhi to a colonel, Reena Pushkarna’s restaurant chain — Tandoori — currently supplies over 1,500 tonnes of packaged food to the forces every year.
Reena told the Hindustan Times from Jerusalem, “Yummy food makes peace all the way. I can proudly say that an entire generation of Israeli soldiers is growing on my chicken tikka.”
Business has steadily grown since the Tandoori chain bagged an Israeli Defence Forces contract some five years ago, she said. Her restaurants in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya and Eilat are the favourite ports of call for both army reservists and generals.
If troops love their rations, Reena reciprocates in her own special way — war disabled soldiers are served free meals on their birthday.
Interestingly, the Tandoori in Tel Aviv was the first location for Norway-mediated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in 1993. Reena said, “When ABC television telecasted the handshake between PM Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the White House, they showed my restaurant and divulged that the peace talks did not commence in Jerusalem or in Oslo but in Tandoori, Tel Aviv.” European press reported the incident as “Peace talks heat up over hot curry.”
Reena polished her culinary skills during her world travels. “A Japanese chef made me understand fish and how rice in sushi was actually invented to save the fish from going bad.”