World Pasta Day 2020: Italian dish with an Indian tadka!
We Indians simply love carbs – roti, naan, rice. You name it, we indulge in it. So it is obvious we also love our pasta. Red sauce, white sauce, pink sauce and even green sauce now! The humble Italian carb has found its way to our hearts, and our bellies. On World Pasta Day, October 25, from Italian kitchens to our local waterholes, here’s how we cherish how pasta has become a desi favourite.
Pasta: Indian dish with an Italian history?
“It is a people’s food. It is carbs, so it gives you a feeling of fullness. It is like what roti or paratha is for us. No wonder it is a favourite among Indians,” says chef Kunal Kapur on pasta’s ever growing popularity in the Indian kitchen. “Pasta is neutral in taste and hence renders itself to many forms! You can bake it, fry it, cook it in any form. It takes on any flavour and hence it’s loved by most,” he adds.
Kapur has experimented with pasta and his Masala Macaroni is a popular take on the modest food. But he wasn’t always up for Indianising it. “I used to think it’s an Italian food, it is done a certain way. But over time, I have realised that food is not one person’s domain,” says Kapur, adding that when Indians started enjoying pasta so much, it was time to understand that people may not enjoy the classic Italian flavours. “People may laugh because it’s like eating paneer tikka with pesto dressing, but I know I would enjoy pasta with Paneer Makhani gravy as well,” he chuckles.
Local flavours meet global taste
Chef Nishant Choubey agrees with Kapur, and believes that food is subjective. “I accidentally made Butter Chicken Pasta once. I did not have rice so I added pasta, and it turned out to be amazing! It has a great balance of flavours and spices,” he says, describing his tryst with a desi pasta dish. Choubey adds that he has seen this fusion of Indian-Italian cuisine in various breweries and restaurants. Another reason for why pasta has become desi is the need for infusion of local flavours. “People adapt food to whatever produce is locally available, and is economical. So a foodie may want to make pasta with a local ingredient, and there is nothing wrong in experimenting,” he explains.
For chef Ritu Dalmia, too, pasta is an every man’s dish. “It is like rice; it works with all spices. So right from an upscale restaurant to a dhaba, every place today has their take on it,” she says. While she has experimented with flavours when it comes to this Italian carb, she considers herself a purist. “Playing with flavours is great, but pasta when made in gravy here ceases to be an Italian dish. I have made its variants but I won’t place it in an Italian menu. It’s an Indian dish, and there is definitely a demand for it,” she adds.
Masala Pasta, Makhani Pasta, Pink sauce pasta – Italian pasta’s desi versions sure seem to have amassed a great fan following. “Pink pasta may elicit laughter from a lot of people, but we Indians consume pasta more than anywhere else in the world! Pink, Red, White, who cares what we name it. We can call it whatever we want, it just has to taste good!” says chef Choubey.
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika