Michelin Star chef Adriano Baldassarre Shares Why Italian Food Is Popular With Indians

Italian Michelin Star chef, Adriano Baldassarre, talks about what makes Italian food so appealing to Indians.

Published On Apr 06, 2022 | Updated On Mar 06, 2024


Italian Michelin Star chef, Adriano Baldassarre, was recently the visiting chef at Perbacco, The Lodhi in Delhi for a week. As the head of the legendary Tordo Matto in Zagarolo (Rome), he won the Michelin star in 2007 as one of the youngest chefs, and in 2016 he opened his own restaurant, Tordomatto in the heart of Rome. Baldassarre often travels to India, and so we caught up with him about his take on Indian food, the Indian palate’s preference for Italian food, the differences between the various regions of Italy that reflect in its cuisine, and more. We spoke to the chef for an exclusive interview. 

Edited excerpts:


Italian cuisine has flavours that whet one’s appetite. Ingredients and produce are celebrated, creating a mélange that is nutritious as well as robust and hearty. Italian cooking is mainly about simplicity—simple recipes, quality ingredients, and cooking techniques to highlight fresh, seasonal flavours.


Much like Indian food, Italian cuisine is high in its ‘umami’ quotient, which is why it strikes a chord among Indians. The cuisines are vastly different, but there is a common thread. The food differs from region to region in Italy, just as it does in India. Vegetables are cooked in different ways, and carbs or the main staples—like pasta and risotto there, rice and roti here—have an important role in every meal. It is not simply the food that connects the two countries, but also the concept of home-style cooking and ancestral recipes passed down from generation to generation.


Similar to the Indian kitchen, Italian cooking is deeply rooted in traditions. Building on family recipes passed down through generations is at the heart of the Italian gastronomic tradition. As a child, I used to get inspired watching my grandmother cook at home and that is what led to my passion for cooking.

Working in India and discovering the country’s diverse culinary repertoire has been a very interesting experience. When you eat Indian food and you listen to the history behind each dish, it’s fascinating to know about their origins. 

Indian cuisine is so varied that I get surprised every time I try something new. My current favourites include rogan josh, lamb biryani, and chhole bhature. But my new favourite could be the next dish I try!

Every Indian spice has its own unique characteristics and I use several of them in my cooking. It depends on what dish I am making.


In Northern Italy, you will find more rice dishes, with a preference for using butter. The hot, coastal towns of the South feature fresh seafood and use more olive oil. Even further, small towns will be known for their specific dishes.

The culinary basics are the same around the world, but what changes is the style of cooking, the ingredients and traditions—which lend to variations in cuisines across regions. For example, in Central Italy, close to Parma, we have a dish of puffed dough which is similar to ‘bhature’ in India! One striking similarity between Italy and India is the diversity of food present across the two countries. Like in India the cuisine varies every 100 km, the food in Italy also differs from region to region.

There was a time when it was a little bit difficult to introduce pure Italian food here because the people wanted Italian food with an Indian touch, but the scenario has changed now. I greatly respect traditions and authenticity in cuisines, and that is what I am keen to bring to the table. For me, it is important to retain the authenticity of the food, even if someone demands for adapting a classic dish as per their palate. I don’t want to overload Italian food with spices. However, if, after tasting the food, a guest feels they would like it spicier, or with an added bit of this or that, I’d be happy to customise it for them.

There are several—it would be hard to name one!

Definitely my mother and grandma.


Photo: The Lodhi, New Delhi