No matter how packed their itinerary is, chefs tend to gravitate towards local farmers markets every time they are in a new city or country. And you can count on them to zero in on some tasty finds. From Pooja Dhingra’s cinnamon spread in Belgium to Ranveer Brar’s check-in at Kat’s Delicatessen in New York, here’s how you can turn your holiday into a culinary adventure.
Text: Barkha Kumari
Pastry chef & founder, Le 15 Patisserie, and Studio Fifteen Culinary Centre, Mumbai
Passion fruit macarons:
Every time I go to Paris, I carry back a box of passion fruit macarons from the Pierre Hermé outlets. Its acid, sweet taste is sinful. (Rs 152 for a box of six)
Speculoos spread: I devour it like Nutella on toast. I pick the Lotus Speculoos when I visit Belgium. It is like a cinnamon spread, with hints of ginger, cloves, peppers and nutmeg. (Rs 865 approximately for a pack of two)
Yuzu: I recently bought a few bottles of wasabi, matcha, miso, black sesame, and yuzu from Tokyo, to add to my macarons. Yuzu is a citrus fruit, like lemon, but has a unique taste. (Rs 1,000 approximately for 250 ml)
Host of Ranveer’s Cafe, and Thank God It’s Friday. He is associated with English Vinglish patisserie and Flyp cafe
Cinnamon: If a chef travels to Colombo,and doesn’t bring back cinnamon, it’s just wrong. They have got the most aromatic, full-bodied cinnamon. These are wafer-thin, and rolled like a beedi. (Rs 295 for 200gms)
Fingerlimes: They are native to Australia, so I sneak out a few fingerlimes from the Melbourne Farmers Market, to finish my fish preparations, like Konkani style tawa fry. (Rs 50 approx for six pieces)
Pastrami: Katz’s Delicatessen, a Jewish Deli, in New York is like a pilgrimage for me. It is said to have
invented the Reuben sandwich. They do the most amazing pastramis that have a good balance of spices, salt and sourness. (Rs 2,663 approximately for 500 gms)
Ex-VJ and I Love Cooking host on Living Foodz, she has an easy vibe in the kitchen
curry powder: I sign up for cooking classes wherever I go. The last time I travelled to Sri Lanka, I was introduced to hot curry powder when making the local brinjal moju. I picked up a packet at a supermarket on the way to the airport. (`330 approx for 500 gms).
Red rice and coconut chips: The red rice powder you get in Sri Lanka is unusual and good for string hoppers. Once, on my way to Maldives I came across wafer-like coconut chips. They were addictive. I later found them at the Colombo airport. (Rs 530 approx for 2.25 kg).
Parmigiano reggiano: I am partial to markets and recently came back with a lot of food from Rome’s vibrant Campo De’ Fiori. I got a block of parmesan, bright red pepper pods, and homemade puttanesca sauce, which I use sparingly. (Rs 3,447 approx for 1 kg).
Model-turned-chef; host of Chakh Le India, Lost Recipes
Cured pork and bird’s eye chilLi: When I’m in Chiang Mai in Thailand, I pick up cured pork, for Asian stir fries. I also pack local dry bird’s eye chillies for marinades, and Asian sauces. (Rs 500 approximately for 500 gms).
Teas, chilli paste: I bring back lots of tea, pickled mushrooms, radish and chilies (for marinades, and my meals) from Hunan. I also get two-three jars of fresh red chilli paste, and dried chilli paste. They add different heat profiles to a dish. (Rs 530 approximately for 210 gms)
Greek Olives: On a one-off trip to Athens, I bought a kilo of olives from an ancient market. Be it in salads, pan-fried dishes, marinades, or served prettily on cheeseplates, these olives are my favourites. (Rs 600 approx for 1 kg)
RxBar: Chefs must keep a few protein bars handy. So I get a few boxes of RXBars from Chicago. They are high-quality, natural bars, without additives, and preservatives. (`1,665 approx for a box of 12)
Roasted nori: I visit the Asian supermarket, Hmart, in Chicago to buy this seaweed snack. I prefer it with rice, in my sushi rolls and soups. (Rs 532 for a pack of 50 sheets)
Fermented shrimp paste: I get this from farmers markets in Bangkok. A small amount of the paste can enhance a calamari dish. Five to six jars go a long way. (Rs 66 approx for a jar)