Italian cuisine

The Indian chef who masters Italian cuisine

Celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia is known for popularizing Italian cuisine in India. She is also a restaurateur with three businesses in Delhi, of which Diva is the most successful. The chef has won acclaim for her unique cooking style and the Italian flair she brings to many of her dishes.

Born in Kolkata into a Marwari family, Dalmia was introduced to Italian cuisine from childhood. “I ate my first Italian meal on a school trip to Rome when I was 10. I remember eating Spaghetti Pomodoro and it was one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. .

Dalmia is one of the few Indian chefs specializing in Italian cuisine. She started preparing Italian dishes as a chef in 1993, when this cuisine was barely known in Indian food circles.

In 2000, she opened an Italian restaurant called Diva: The Italian in Delhi.

Highlighting how far Italian cuisine has come in India, she said: “In 1993 I couldn’t even get simple fresh herbs like basil in India. I used to bring all the ingredients in my suitcases from other countries. People were also wondering why Macheroni Hot Pot is on the menu. But Italian cuisine has now become very popular in India. Now we even have a huge wine cellar.

Dalmia made a name for himself with his cooking show, Italian Khaana, on NDTV Good Times. The show successfully ran for three seasons. When asked what she thought of the show, Dalmia replied, “It was super fun. I had an amazing team that traveled all over Italy with me, that suffered from Italian food day after day for weeks with me. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us.

The talented chef has won numerous TV awards and is also the author of several cookbooks. In 2012, she published Traveling Diva: recipes from around the world. The book is a collection of her favorite European, Middle Eastern and Asian recipes. It also contains an account of his encounters with these cuisines during his travels abroad.

Dalmia admitted that she never thought of becoming a writer. But she has a habit of keeping a diary of her school years. That’s what helped her when she became an author. Initially, when publishers approached Dalmia, she rejected the offers, but in the end she said yes. Speaking about her first book, she said, “I was overwhelmed with the response I got after the book. I enjoyed writing it and I really hope I find more time to write more books in the future.

Besides the Italian cuisine, Dalmia finds the Asian and regional Indian dishes interesting. She loves the complexity of these dishes and how they can please everyone. “It’s about being careful and nuanced in order to achieve the perfect balance of flavors in these cuisines. So I find both [Asian and Indian food] very interesting and intriguing,” she said.

Dalmia believes that India has become more open to international cuisines in recent years, but there is always room for improvement in this area. “Like any other country, India also has a very strong and rustic food culture. Indians are happy to experiment with international cuisine from time to time, but at the end of the day, they need the convenience of home cooking. Sometimes Chinese works too,” she said.

In addition to her passion for food, Dalmia is very committed to LGBTQ rights and has campaigned for them. She was among the first six petitioners to call for the repeal of Section 377 in 2016. other. I think education and awareness are tools that will make our society less homophobic,” she said.

While Dalmia’s journey as an activist has been rocky, her career as a leader has been more or less fluid. She says she was “lucky” in that regard. In her early days, criticism only came to her occasionally and she learned to deal with it. She said: “I’ve learned to be more open to criticism now. Things have been tough for me, but I’m learning that things don’t always go the way we want.