India has organised a week-long Indian culinary week here to showcase the country's wide ranging food habits as part of cultural interaction with Israel.
The programme by the Indian Embassy here in collaboration with Israel's leading hotel chain Dan Hotels was inaugurated on Sunday. Celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, 52, is showcasing the wide ranging food habits prevalent in India.
A three-day programme at King David hotel in Jerusalem where chef David Bitton will be joining hands with Kapoor in preparing Indian food has received an overwhelming response with a hotel manager saying all the places were booked.
Kapoor, the 'Best Chef of India' award recipient, said he is here to "learn and share what he knows with others".
"There is a great affinity among Israelis for India and of course Indians also reciprocate in the same way. Everyone says that people here know about Indian food, but no actually they don't because in India also we don't know. There also we keep on discovering new things. Everyday I wake up I learn something new about India and Indian food," Kapoor said.
"Indian food is like modern doctors. When we go to a doctor he gives you six to eight pills in hope that one would work. Indian food is like that. In one dish, we have 8, 10, 15 different spices and herbs in the hope that one would work. That is unique. The ability to combine contrasting spices and herbs in one dish and create that uniqueness," he said.
Indian restaurants are not the real reflection of Indian food. They do not do justice, Indian homes do. The real Indian food is what we eat at home," Kapoor said.
Indian Ambassador Pavan Kapoor, stressing on the role of people to people contact in bilateral ties, said cultural interaction "is a key element in broadening relationship and that is where the role of Indian food, often referred to in India as part of India's soft power, is playing a role".
"We have a few Indian restaurants here but we are hoping that after the visit of the chef, we can convince the Israeli government to facilitate bring in more people who can set up more range of restaurants bringing the diversity of Indian food," the Indian envoy said.
A vocational school run by the Dan Hotel chain is hosting two workshops with the Indian chef, one for professionals and the other for India enthusiasts. There will also be a second workshop by Kapoor to showcase Indian food at a much lower price, most of them from the Indian community in Israel.
"I hope our chefs learn something about Indian food this week and I hope we can sometime show Indian food in our buffet for guests," CEO of Dan Hotel chain Raffi Sadeh said.