Italian cusine

“The cuisine of a country is the only exact attestation of its civilization.”
Author Unknown

Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing 1 800Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. Stirring memories.

My one and only trip to mainland Europe was to Milan and that too decades ago. The UK has it’s own charm, but Europe is a different story altogether. The husband often carried back tales of Germany, Netherlands and France yet I get a first hand feel as I couldn’t connect very well. It took the recent trip to Switzerland to change my whole perspective on Europe, how culturally and historically rich it is. You also get a taste of local cuisine. It makes the heart sing out loud when you see the pride they take in stirring up and serving local cuisine, each platter served in style, laced with culinary history. As you cross regions, the stories of food change, the influences are varied, French, German, East European, maybe more.

Swiss cuisineI got back and possibly the first thing I dabbled was was this char-grilled tomato gazpacho, one which is found right across the country. In temperatures ready to sizzle Europe, this Spanish chilled soup is popular across menus in Switzerland. A tomato gazpacho, spinach, cucumber, peach too where they get a little experimental. It’s chilled, it’s bursting with flavour and possibly the most welcome bowl to douse the heat wave!Vine tomatoes with LFP

Gazpacho The Swiss love food and they love life. Local produce rules the roost, and it is heartening to visit a country that celebrates seasonal and local produce practically on every platter. Fruit in bakes, sweet and savoury, greens that are to die for, micro greens just in case you need an additional excuse. Cheese in every avatar, eat as much as you like! If there’s one thing I picked out, it’s there love for salads. Fresh, crisp, from farm to table. SwitzerlandSalad bars are standard at sit down restaurants. Pick and choose what you like, and then drizzle {or drench} with either French or Italian salad dressing. I love the generous servings of dressing that stand alongside, lashings that take the salad up a lot many notches.It’s travels like this that inspire you to stir up something special, maybe something different.Sydney 2015 The trip to Sydney this summer had the teen in love with a good Caesar salad. I soon played around with ingredients for the dressing as that’s what a good salad needs IMHO. The rest I can manage, a little painstakingly in summer of course. So I came up with this dressing, which is like a cross between a Ranch and Caesar, no anchovies in here, yet nice and creamy and zesty. I’ll call it a Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing. It’s nice because it’s easy to whiz up, the trusted Hamilton Beach blender being the workhouse through my experiments.Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing I really should also be making my own mayonnaise, though always have an eggless one in the fridge! Del Monte does a really nice one. Just makes life easier on days when you are short on time. Using just locally available ingredients, this is a nice salad dressing to have in the fridge to perk up the most mundane of salads. Adjust the zinginess as you like, increase or decrease the garlic according to your palette, skip the cheese spread to go light. This is your dressing. Do it your way!


Recipe: Homemade Ranch Dressing your picture

Summary: Zesty, creamy and lighter than a Caesar dressing, this is a handy salad dressing to have in the fridge. Play around with the ingredients as you go along, customise it to your taste buds. You might never go back to a store bought one again.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 1/4 cup Del Monte eggless mayonnaise {or homemade}
  • 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk {chaach Amul/Mother Dairy}
  • 1/8 cup cheese spread
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cheese spread
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp dried herbs
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place everything in jar of blender and blend until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a clean jar/bottle, refrigerate.
  3. Keeps 4-5 days.


Once this is done and in the fridge, then the rest of the Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing is usually a breeze. Summer is a pain for fresh produce here, everything wilts so fast. So I threw together a quick summer chicken pasta salad, inspired by a Caesar.Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingIt’s a meal in a bowl, and quite balanced too. I’ve kept the carbs to a minimum, a generous dose of greens {iceberg is all I find locally these days} and a handful of roasted walnuts. On other days, you could find some sliced avocado, tomatoes, feta, pine nuts and rocket in there. Do remember to add the croutons just before serving so they stay nice and crisp.Char-grille Tomato GazpachoOh, and you could always serve a chilled tomato gazpacho on the side, making it a more filling meal!

[print_this]Recipe: Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad DressingDressing
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Summary: A nice summery Chicken Pasta Salad in Home Made Buttermilk Salad Dressing which can be made ahead. Toss together and serve immediately in winter. It’s a meal in a bowl, and adaptable to taste. Use the best seasonal greens, preferably home grown or organic

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

  • 2 oat crusted and shallow fried or baked chicken fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 purple cabbage, chopped
  • 75g Del Monte macaroni, cooked al dente
  • 50g walnuts, roasted, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, julienne {optional}
  • 1 cup salad greens if in season {I had none}
  • 1/2 cup home made buttermilk salad dressing {recipe above}
  • handful fresh basil
  • Parmesan
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, cubed


  1. Place bread in air fryer and fry for 15 minutes on 160 until light brown and crisp. {Alternatively bake in oven}
  2. Place all ingredients other than bread, dressing, basil and Parmesan in a big bowl. Toss gently to mix, then pour over dressing as required and mix again.
  3. Just before serving toss in crisp bread cubes. Garnish with fresh basil, sprinkle over Parmesan. serve immediately.


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“I’m not a chef, I’m Italian.”
David Rocco

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New DelhiHe can kill with his eyes, he can wound with his smile … David Rocco! Sigh!! An Italian with a disarming smile, words that roll off his tongue with an accent you want to hang on to, energetic, animated, full of life and fun! Such a good sport!! This Italian food guru was at the mercy of a bunch of women food bloggers to “Celebrate the Exquisite Flavors of Italy at ITC Maurya“. Or maybe, we were at his mercy!! 

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi It was an afternoon well spent at the rustic yet elegant West View, ITC Maurya, New Delhi, in animated food discussion. Indian food, Italian cusine, the cultures, the similarities yet the differences and Davids’ India experience. The charmer that he is, there wasnt a moment left silent, a table of 9 women geared up to quiz the Italian chef.

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi Keeping him company was affable ITC Executive Chef Manisha Bhasin who I have been fortunate to meet at the Singapore Pop Up and at the Ozzie  Master Chefs meet up. David is in India for a series called Dolce India.

Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi 4From the sambhar and dals that he experienced down south, to the Mcdonalds pit stop driving in Maharashtra, from olive oil to mustard oil, from complicated Indian dishes to simple four ingredient Italian meals, we had a banter going. The man’s Italian! That says enough for his style of cooking, his passion for food, his love for fresh produce … and above all his love for his family! His mantra is simple. Make cooking fun! He wants to bring food education back to the table.

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi David wears many hats – actor, director, chef, father, son. A charmer through & through! He learnt cooking from his mother, and his kids have picked it up from him. How inspiring that at 5 years old, his little twin girls can already stir up a mean risotto! Simple rustic meals, no fancy equipment and ingredients, fresh seasonal flavours, David’s an inspiration to home cooks around the globe. You can catch him on TV – “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita” and “David Rocco’s Amalfi Getaway.” {they air in india too}

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi He steers clear of controversial questions {like the pomace oil vs olive oil type}, considers Indian cuisine quite complicated and involved, yet loves the vastness of our cuisine with infinite regional variations. At a culinary event with ITC chefs in Mumbai, the challenge was to create signature dishes using similar ingredients.  While the ITC chefs were still listing ingredients for ‘galaouti kebabs’, our man here was done in a heartbeat stirring up meatballs using four standard ingredients!

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi We were deep in culinary banter as the the first course made an appearance. The meal consisted of David recipes. Primo! Penne com Pomodori e Melanzane, a neapolitan style pasta with eggplant & mozzarella sauce. It was fresh, bursting with simple flavours and quite addictive. Mine didn’t seem to have eggplants in it, or so I thought. David talked us through the recipe as we ate. Did I tell you that the bread served was excellent? It was indeed! Nice selection and very addictive.

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi Secondi! This was something I loved. Saltimbocca di Pollo, chicken with sage cooked in marsala wine. Lilting flavours, chicken done just right, the saltiness coming through beautifully, and the pairing excellent. On the platter was a Beet Risotto which was perfecto! Good to the bite, amazingly delicious. Was the portion too small? Maybe it was just me, but I did wonder if the portions served for lunch were tinier than normal!

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi Time for Dolce … and amidst much anticipation dessert was served. Looked really nice. Torta Caprese {flourless chocolate cake}, and Zabaglione con Fruitti di Bosco {mixed fruit with espresso zabaglione}. Neither delivered. One spoon into the zabaglione and Ruchira warned me off. ‘Eggy‘ she whispered, knowing my disdain for eggy desserts.

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi I tried a teeny bit. Eggy indeed. Sadly enough, even the Torta Caprese was overpoweringly eggy. It was disappointing. Nothing some good old vanilla beans couldn’t have fixed!

With Chef David Rocco, ITC Maurya, New Delhi We got over the disappointment soon as the 100 watt smile drowned the bunch of us. David left soon after lunch leaving us with his invincible charm and accent that seemed to hang in the air! Thank you ITC Maurya for organising the lunch. It was an afternoon well spent, and I love the stylish West View! The other food bloggers present were Anita, Reeta Skeeter, Charis, Sangeeta, Ruchira and Parul. We had a great great time!

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“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
Mae West

We were brought believing that too much of a good thing is bad! Times have clearly changed and with good times come dispelled notions! Our afternoon at the decidedly charming Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli sponsored by Leonardo Olive Oil was nothing short of magic.

{Warning: Long post}
Leonardo Olive Oil @ Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli Nine Delhi food bloggers, Italian cuisine and olive oil that flowed nonstop, celebrity Chef Saby with his passionate efficient team, warm and light hearted hosts Himani & Chandana, and one of my favourite eating places OLIVE – it was food heaven under one roof! Four hours with one of India’s top 10 chefs passed by in a heartbeat!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’m an ardent admirer of the super talented Chef Saby. Having missed a couple of opportunities to see him create culinary magic, this was one event that I wasn’t going to miss. Apprehensive about meeting a guy who has won just about every chef award in India, cooked for India’s top families like the Bachchans & Ambanis, someone inspired by Sydneys Tetsuya, he instantly put us at ease. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

 Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI walked in on the dot of 12 noon, the given time … everything was ready, in place and waiting. Have been to events before where apparently a wait of 30 minutes+ is seemingly acceptable. Not so here. The anti pasti counters gleamed invitingly, Leonardo flavouring the spread –  apple relish, onion & chili jam, mushroom pate, hummus, Caprese salad, the exotic cheese platter, stuffed little red peppers with whipped feta {my favourite}, Leonardo olives, more olives, cured meats …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Himani Dalmia, Senior Manager Corporate, Leonardo and Chandana Paul went out of the way to make us live the experience – Up Close and Personal with Chef Saby and Leonardo”! It was soon time for Olive fish & chips, asparagus the vegetarian option! Crisp & delicious! Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe Chef? Jack of all trades and master too, wonderful human being, as level headed as he is large hearted, ever smiling, humorous, an engaging speaker, fantastic team leader, eagle eyed, perfectionist … too many adjectives but it’s impossible to describe the man in a few words! His accolades speak for him – Best Chef of India Awarded by President of India, National Tourism Award, 2011-12, Director of Kitchens – ai, lap, olive qutab, olive beach , the moving kitchen by olive yet so down to earth! {He even walked us to the porch and waited for our respective cars to come}.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi

For him, cooking is an art, the ultimate form of expression. “The platter is my canvas and the food ingredients, my colour!” … in the case of this artist you can eat his art. At Olive, he brings his love for all things culinary to life as he cooks right in front of the guests at a rustic kitchen called the Greenhouse on the Ridge. His recipes, as always, satiate and leave guests asking for more.

He threw his kitchen open to us, patiently guiding us into every nook and cranny {it was buzzing at lunch}, explaining kitchen procedures, chef training, sourcing fresh produce … the works! Once inside the cold room, you can imagine the grin when we saw the Padano! If we could have lifted that 40kg block of cheese we would have run for it!Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiThe menu for the day demonstrated different uses of Leonardo products – pasta, green and black olives, India’s first non-alcoholic beer, and olive oil of course! Non stop banter and photographs continued while discussing olive oil, the myths particularly surrounding pomace, the changing face of ‘food on our table’ … Pasta Marinare @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlive oil is the juice of the olive, the only oil on the market that is extracted from a fresh fruit is universally accepted as the healthiest of all edible oils. Adding olive oil to your diet is the easiest change you can make towards a healthier lifestyle. I ♥ olive oil! Mr V N Dalmia @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiLeonardo Olive Oil the first Indian brand of olive oil introduced in 2003 is a brand owned by Dalmia Continental Private Limited the flagship company of VN Dalmia {seen above; he joined us for lunch}. It offers four of the finest versions – Leonardo Gold, Leonardo 100% Pure Olive Oil, Leonardo Olive Pomace Oil and Leonardo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The product list includes Leonardo Olives, Hudson Canola Oil, Granora Pasta, Indian pickles too.

Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi
Photo courtesy Rekha @

By the time we were done, we were ready to burst, yet Saby could have hypnotised us to eat another marathon round! He held us in good humour woven around the food and drinks, gently introducing each variety of olive oil used in the menu from batter fried asparagus shoots and basa fish, to the mind blowing apple & feta saladLeonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… to moorishly beautiful fresh baked artisan skillet bread {close to the Indian pav something like I recently made, but up several notches} served with individual pestle and mortals to make your own olive oil dip {YUM} …Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi… melt in the mouth classical lasagna Bolognaise in a skillet, followed by black truffle porcini risotto {excellent was the word} …Black truffle porcini risotto … and then a variety of wood fire pizzasMarinara pizza; Asparagus, smoked Scarmoza cheese, walnuts, Parmesan, truffle oil; Spinach, sundried tomato, olives, feta; Pepperoni jalapeno; Olive’s signature Milano paper pizza … fresh from the rustic oven in the courtyard of this picturesque restaurant.Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiHe has us eating out of his hands, all this while his super efficient team set up the dessert counter and had us hopelessly distracted! I’m definitely a small eater but I was amazed at how far I stretched it. How could there possibly be so much deliciousness on a single day? I am proud to say I tasted everything, well almost  … Sizzling Gamba @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiI’ve never had a gamba before, not always food adventurous, but having it stirred under your nose does something to your taste buds. Mouthwatering and sizzling good, I loved the way it was served? Beautiful flavours, the undertones of olive oil marrying the ingredients so well, the freshness of the produce and the passion of the chef! {You an find the recipe at the bottom}Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiOlives signature tiramisu made with inhouse mascarpone had me swooning! It was delightful, as was the praline mud cake! I regret that I didn’t get as far as the apple & walnut crumble with the stunning spun sugar! Desserts @ Tiramisu @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhiSaby or Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is the Executive Chef at Olive in Delhi. Launched in 2003 by AD Singh, Olive was immediately chosen as one of the world’s best new restaurants. One of Delhi’s must visit eat out places offering hand picked recipes from the Mediterranean, overlooking the romantic Qutab Minar, it is housed in an ancient Mughal mansion.Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New DelhChic in every way –  the old world character beautifully blends with the rustic charm of old wood, vintage furniture, light furnishings, an open courtyard, indoor eating places, a terrace sit out overlooking the monument … and of course, the ancient banyan tree! {Thank you Sangeeta for clicking me clicking Olive}Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi My deep love for the vintage feel and distressed wood makes me love this place!  The Olive Bar and Kitchen is a rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a delightful Mediterranean melting pot. Leonardo Olive Oil Meet @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi Thank you Himani and Chandana for playing the perfect hosts on behalf of Leonardo, and for the generous goodie baskets!Leonardo Olive Oil Meet - Goodie basketsThank you Saby, Vaibhav and Astha for the outstanding food, warmth and fun you served up, and for the ‘bottle cakes‘ and chocolates …Bottle Cakes @ Olive Bar & Kitchen Mehrauli, New Delhi …and thank you Sid for being the glue that binds the Delhi food bloggers together!

 [print_this]Recipe: Sizzling Gambos

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Summary: Tiger prawns, olives, garlic, pomace olive oil come together to make this winner. Recipe courtesy Chef Saby at Olive

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

  • 150gm prawns {35-40}
  • 20g cherry tomatoes
  • 20gm roasted garlic
  • 10gm black olive
  • 10gm green olive
  • 5gm rosemary
  • 5gm basil
  • 20gm roasted onion
  • 5gm parsley
  • 10ml white wine
  • 10ml white wine vinegar
  • 10ml olive oil
  • Crusty country bread


  1. The prawns can be peeled first, before cooking, if you prefer.
  2. In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan,warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, olives and roasted onions and sauté for about one minute, or until it begins to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic!
  3. Raise the heat to high and add the prawns, white wine, white wine vinegar and basil. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the prawns turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, transfer prawns with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread.


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