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Top chef formulas

The secret to an appetising Italian fare is getting your cooking basics right, says chef Angelo Maria Franchini.

india Updated: Jun 26, 2011 02:14 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times

He mastered French fries when he was eight because his mom won’t make it for him. Today, a master of Italian fare, Chef Angelo Maria Franchini, from Perugia, Italy, loves to share one cooking tip with everyone who’s interested — ‘only use freshest ingredients sourced from their region of origin’.

Chef Franchini, who was in the city to promote EAT (European Art of Taste), a campaign financed by the European Union and the Italian state to present European wine and food, also demands your attention when he tells you that for cooking great food, you must believe in ‘stagionalita’— the concept of eating foods in the season in which they are grown. “This way you do your bit for the environment by cutting down deep freezing,” he says. Popular in Italy for his cooking classes, he gives some more cooking secrets: “It’s always the basics we overlook. Storing extra virgin olive oil in a dark place, away from heat and light can make a great deal of difference in your food. Also, make pasta ‘aldente’, cooked and strained in a way that it’s firm but not hard,” says the chef who entered the kitchen as a commis 30 years back and went on to establish Italian cuisine joints across the world for various hotel brands.

Talking about new trends in Italian cooking, the chef says, “There’s experimentation happening. We’re mixing hot and cold. We pair up steaming hot fish with ice-cream, we serve beer instead of wine with Italian food and present raw products on the table, the way the Japanese do. In Southern Italy, raw products are a part of the cuisine, but the trend is gaining popularity everywhere.” Delighted that pasta has been rated the most popular food in the world, he says, “Pastas, cut out in artistic shapes are one of the most glamorous food items. Foodies now also know the benefits of eating pasta cooked in olive oil”. And has he ever tasted any Indian dish? “I am crazy about tandoori food and meat masala,” he says. We know he means business when he says Indo-Italian fusion is a big possibility.

Umbrian salad made with fresh veggies
One of the chef’s EAT recipe, the Umbrian salad is a a light, summery starter that’s simple to make and high on health

200 gm carrots
200 gm celery
200 gm cucumber
100 gm bell peppers
100 gm fresh red tomatoes
50 gm lettuce
50 gm rocket leaves
100 gm extra virgin olive oil
100 gm sandwich loaf
50 gm white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut all the vegetables and the bread into small cubes. Bake bread cubes in an oven. Mix all the ingredients, season with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar and serve.

First Published: Jun 25, 2011 17:10 IST