From Japanese yuzu, Australian fingerlimes and Sri Lankan curry powder, to protein bars from Chicago, chefs share what they like to bring back from their trips
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)