Being in Pune for 20 years now, I have learned to steer my palate towards Indianized remakes of pasta, Chinese and ‘continental.’ But I no longer have to maneuver my tastes. There are many affordable authentic ingredients readily available in stores scattered through the city. Fine Foods, Providore, Tutto Bene are a few examples. Dorabjee’s always carried some foreign ingredients but not the variety that they have now.Pune citizens are well traveled and have tasted varieties of different foods from all over the world. Italian, Thai and American are seen on home dinner tables more often these days. People want the authentic versions of the food, not the Indianized versions. They want the right cheeses, sauces and seasonings — and that is where these shops have found their role.
It is odd that these specialty stores carrying imported food items are springing up all over Pune city at a time when obesity rates are increasing and health concerns such as high rates of diabetes and hypertension plague the nation. Shouldn’t we stick to our Desi kanna? Well, that’s not so easy when you have experienced many other tastes and would like to eat them once in a while. My suggestion is to take advantage of these stores and cook more often at home. We tend to eat out when we want some different ethnic food. Authentic Thai curries, pasta sauces, Chinese stir – frys, as well as interesting sandwiches and salads are a few of the things you can make with imported ingredients. It beats the fat content and prices at restaurants these days. So shop and cook to your heart’s content.
The possibilities are endless but here are a few suggestions:
-add olives to your salad or keep the olives as an appetizer
-use hot sesame oil in your stir-frys
-use fish sauce in your Thai recipes
-peanut butter and jam sandwiches make a great snack that is easy to make
-use tahini to make hummus
-feta cheese goes great with spinach olives and tomatoes and some Italian dressing to make a tasty salad