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Mouth-watering Italian recipes for you

It is one of the world’s most popular cuisines. Here is a handful of dishes that make it so

Durri Bhalla | Published 20.02.22, 01:54 AM
Chicken (or eggplant) Parmigiana

Chicken (or eggplant) Parmigiana

Italian cuisine includes deeply rooted traditions common to the whole country as well as the regional gastronomies different from each other, especially between the north and south of Italy. Italian cuisine offers an abundance of taste and is one of the most popular cuisines around the world.

Chicken (or eggplant) Parmigiana


Chicken Parmigiana is a dish that consists of breaded chicken breast covered in marinara sauce (tomato based) and topped with Parmesan cheese and then baked. You can also add ham or bacon. I like to have a green salad along with it. It’s extremely exotic, yet very simple to make. Vegetarians can use eggplant instead of chicken.


• Chicken breasts: 4, each carefully cut into clean thin slices. Try not to tear the chicken

• Flour: For dredging

• Eggs: 2, beaten

• Panko breadcrumbs with a little mixed Italian herbs in it

• Salt

• Pepper

• Marinara sauce

• Parmesan cheese or any other grated cheese (optional)

• For the marinara sauce

• Extra virgin olive oil: 2tbsp

• Onions: 2 cups, finely chopped

• Garlic: 2tbsp, very finely chopped

• Basil leaves: 15-20, finely sliced

• Tomatoes: 2kg, blanched and skin removed

• Tomato puree or paste: 250g

• Thyme: 1tbsp

• Sugar: A pinch

• Salt: To taste

• Pepper: To taste


• Put a little salt and pepper on the chicken.

• Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in the egg and crumb with panko breadcrumbs.

• Heat oil in a pan and fry the chicken till golden brown. Remove.

• Put marinara sauce on top of the chicken. Cover the sauce with Parmesan and bake in the oven till the cheese is melted.

• See that the cheese only melts and does not become brown.

• Garnish with basil leaves.

Note: You can do the same with eggplant. Cut the eggplant into thick slices. Put in salt water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Then same recipe as for the chicken.

• For the marinara sauce

• In a large saucepan heat olive oil and add the onions and cook till light golden. Then add garlic and when fragrant add the tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme and basil.

• Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to low heat and let simmer for 45 minutes to one hour.

• Adjust the salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar.

NOTE. Marinara sauce can be used as pizza sauce by adding little oregano.

Minestrone  soup (Vegetarian)

Minestrone soup, which means ‘big soup’, has many goodies and can be served as a first course or a main meal as it is quite thick. I have made this soup using available fresh vegetables and with vegetable stock. The hardy vegetables are cooked first and the rest are added last so that they retain some bite. All you need with it is a rustic bread loaf toasted and laced with olive oil. What an awesome comfort food it is!


• Onion: 1 large, chopped

• Garlic: 4 large cloves, minced

• Leek: 1, chopped very fine

• Celery stalks: 2, chopped fine

• Carrots: 2, diced small

• Zucchinis: 2, diced small

• Frozen peas: 1 cup

• Cabbage: ¼ cup, chopped fine

• Parsley: 4tbsp, fresh chopped

• Basil leaves: 1 bunch, fresh (chop the stalks and keep the leaves for later)

• Tomato paste: 2tbsp

• Tomatoes (blanch the fresh tomatoes, remove the skin and crush it): 1 can

• White kidney beans (rongi): 250g, boiled

• Cut macaroni: 1 cup

• Fresh thyme: 6 sprigs (or 1tsp dried thyme)

• Bay leaf: 1

• Parmesan cheese: Enough to grate over the soup

• Vegetable stock: 2 litres

• Olive oil: 6tbsp


• Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onions with garlic and thyme. Saute for a couple of seconds till onion is soft.

• Then add leeks, celery, carrots, zucchini (add later if you prefer it firm) and cabbage. Mix well and saute for about 5 minutes.

• Add the stock, tomatoes, peas, tomato paste, basil stalks and bay leaf.

• Season with salt and pepper.

• Simmer gently for 15 minutes.

• Add the cooked beans and the macaroni. Cook for 10 minutes till the pasta is done.

• Chop the basil leaves. Turn off the heat and add to the soup. You can add some parsley as well.

NOTE: Minestrone is quite a flexible soup. You can add green beans, spinach, broccoli, etc.

• Serve with some grated cheese.

• Serve with toasted crusty bread and laced with olive oil.

• Don’t overcook the vegetables or the pasta.


Tiramisu is one of the most beloved of after-dinner desserts. This no-bake parfait features alternating layers of soft, sweetened mascarpone cheese and coffee-soaked ladyfingers. Pound cake can be substituted for the traditional ladyfingers biscuit.


• Heavy cream: 1 cup

• Cream cheese: 115g

• Caster sugar: 3tbsp

• Dark rum or brandy: 2tbsp

• Strong coffee: ½ cup at room temperature

• Pound cake: 1, cut into ½-inch slices

• Shaved dark chocolate: ¼ cup

• Unsweetened cocoa powder: A little for dusting


• In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined.

• In a small bowl combine coffee and rum/brandy.

• In a large rectangle bowl, lay half the cake slices in a single layer trimming to fit.

• Brush with half the coffee mixture.

• Top with half the cream cheese mixture and half the chocolate shavings.

• Repeat.

• Dust top with cocoa powder.

• Cover and refrigerate at least for 4-6 hours before serving.

Shrimp Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo is an Italian pasta dish named after Alfredo di Lelio, who featured this dish at his restaurant in Rome in the early mid-20th century. You can make it with prawns, chicken, etc., or even vegetables like broccoli or parsley, among others.


• Fettuccine: 250g, uncooked

• Shrimps: 500g (30-40)

• Butter: 2tbsp

• Cream cheese: 125g

• Heavy cream: ¾cup

• Chicken broth: ¼cup

• Garlic: 4 large cloves, minced

• Parmesan cheese: 1 cup grated

• Salt: To taste

• Pepper: To taste

• Red chilli flakes: Optional


• Take the cream cheese out of the fridge so that it softens up.

• Cook fettuccine in boiling water till al dente.

• Over medium heat in a large pan add butter, cream cheese, chicken broth and garlic. Mix well to melt the cream cheese. This will take a couple of minutes.

• When the cream cheese has been incorporated into the sauce let it bubble gently for five minutes. Or until the sauce has been reduced a little. Add the grated parmesan cheese while it is cooking. Cook for a minute.

• Then add the prawns and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

• Season with salt and pepper according to taste.

• Toss with drained pasta.

• Sprinkle chilli flakes and serve immediately.

NOTE. If at any time the sauce becomes too thick you can thin it down with a bit of hot pasta water.

Spaghetti  Bolognese

Bolognese sauce known in Italian as ragu alla Bolognese is a meat-based sauce in Italian cuisine that is slowly cooked and whose preparation involves several techniques. Ingredients include a characteristic mix of onion, celery and carrot, different types of minced meat along with small amounts of fatty pork. White wine, milk, and tomatoes are added and the dish is then gently simmered at length to make a thick sauce. Here I have simplified the dish for easy cooking at home.


• Mince mutton: 500g

• Onions: 2, finely chopped

• Garlic: 2tbsp, minced

• Carrot: ½, grated

• Bay leaves: 2

• Olive oil: 3tbsp

• Salt: To taste

• Pepper: To taste

• Red chilly powder: 1tsp

• Sugar: 1tsp

• Tomato ketchup: 2tbsp

• Red chilli flakes: 2tsp

• Oregano: 2tsp

• Tomatoes: 2, finely chopped

• Mustard sauce (Dijon or English mustard): 1tbsp

• Tomato puree: 2, small carton

• Worcestershire sauce: 2tsp

• Basil leaves: ¼cup

• Parmesan cheese: ½cup

• Spaghetti: ½ packet or as much as you would like, boiled and kept aside.


• Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add onions and saute till soft.

• Add garlic and bay leaves. Then add the carrots. Saute till carrots are very soft.

• Now add the mince meat and saute well till it browns. It is called searing the meat.

• Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook till well combined with the meat. Will take a couple of minutes.

• Now add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, mustard sauce. Worcestershire sauce, sugar and red chilli powder.

• Add black pepper and salt to taste.

• Add oregano and mix well.

• Now add 2 cups of water and pressure cook for 4 whistles.

• The consistency should be sauce-like, not dry. In case it is dry, add a little hot pasta water.

• Now add the finely chopped basil.

• Serve over hot spaghetti and sprinkle a good amount of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle little chilli flakes over it.

• Serve along with Tabasco sauce (optional).

Pizza Margherita

A widespread belief says that in June 1889 the pizza maker Raffaele Esposito invented a dish called Pizza Margherita in honour of the Queen of Italy, Margherita Savoy, and the Italian unification since the toppings are tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green), ingredients inspired by the colours of the national flag of Italy. Here I have shown how to make Margherita pizza with cheese available here. I have already given the recipe of Marinara sauce (see Chicken/Eggplant Parmigiana). To make it a pizza sauce add some oregano to it.


• For the pizza dough

• White flour: 1.5kg

• Water: 1 litre

• Sea salt: 25g

• Olive oil: 50g

• Honey: 10g

• Dry yeast: 5-7g


• Put the water in a bowl. Add the yeast and the honey. Mix.

• Now add only 1kg of flour little by little. Mix well. We are activating fermentation. Cover with towel and keep aside for 1 hour.

• On work surface put the dough, add remaining flour, salt and oil. Mix well and pat the dough together. Smear oil on the dough and then cover with cling foil and a towel on top. Keep aside for 1 hour.

• Now remove the plastic. Cut the dough in half. Then make balls of about 250g each. Then put balls in a tray. Sprinkle a little flour over it. Cover with plastic and towel and let it rest for 6-8 hours at room temperature.

• Now take a ball. Using your fingers make it round with a thickness according to your liking.

• Put sauce on it. Then cook in oven till the sides are brown.

• Now remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle cheese, olive oil and chopped basil.

• Cook in oven at 200°C for 20 minutes.

Note. It is very important to cook the pizza with sauce on it. After that you can put any topping of your choice.

In case you cannot get mozzarella, you can use pizza cheese, which is readily available, or any other cheese which can melt nicely. Be generous with the cheese and olive oil.

Pictures by the author

Durri Bhalla is a cookery expert and author of Indian Bohra Cuisine and Inner Truth To Good Health And Weight Loss. You can find her at @DurriBhallaKitchen on Instagram, Durri's Kitchen on Facebook and Durri Bhalla on YouTube

Last updated on 20.02.22, 01:54 AM

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