New Delhi: Dal makhani, butter chicken, aloo gobhi, pakoras... The Ferrari team from Italy is living the soul of India at the Hilton Eros in the capital, which has laid out an exquisite and elaborate spread for the guests.
The team of experts at Hilton is working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth run for the auto-giant at the races.
India is not an unfamiliar terrain for most of the team-members, who are well-travelled; but the experience of Indian five-star hospitality is a novelty. It is as good as anywhere else in the world, the team echoed.
"I speak `thoda thoda (little)` Hindi because I have been coming to India every year since 2001. I came to India the first time on 9/11 and visited Kashmir," Ferrari team member Max Mangone told reporters.
Himalaya, Varanasi, Rajasthan, Indian spirituality and spicy food at Karim`s in Old Delhi are the biggest pulls for Mangone. "I buy all my ayurvedic toiletries from India. They are very cheap," the Italian said.
Mangone and his team-mates went out on a shopping spree and a quiet lunch to Karim`s Saturday.
Then there`s Simone Vivi who has found his nirvana in the printed Indian `kurti` - the short traditional Indian shirt. A fashionista, Vivi likes to pair his traditional western style Italian suit with the `kurti`.
"The shirt gives a different look. I cannot wear the `payjama` to work at Ferrari," Vivi said.
The wiry Italian would like to get his forearms tattooed with `henna`. "I would love to do it - henna painting is beautiful. But I guess, it is not okay with my job," Vivi told reporters.
Vivi, who has been trying to analyse the emerging India for the last five days since his arrival to the country, said "the big jump up in the country will start from the new generation".
"The road to progress is different because we are two different cultures. Our culture is more westernized... I don`t think Europe will work as a development model for India. The way you do things is absolutely amazing," Vivi said.
The Ferrari team-member would like to return to India as a backpacker to scour the Himalayas.
On the other hand, Maurizio Barbieri, in India for the first time, is more curious about `tandoori chicken` and `naan`.
"Tell me, what should I eat?" he asks scanning the menu. "The `naan` is like pita bread," the track expert observed.
Boiled long-grain fragrant rice and fresh Indian fruits have scored high on the Ferrari platter.
Italy`s chef Nicodemo Stefano, who is laying out the Italian Festival Buffet in honour of the Ferrari team at the Hilton for lunch and dinner, said: "Feeding the Italians and the Indian guests traditional Italian food was a test of skills because I had to depend on local ingredients."
"Most Italian platters and meat dishes use veal... but veal is banned in India. I have to use beef instead," the chef, who earlier worked in the Formula 1 hot spot of Monte Carlo, told reporters.
Stefano has created a menu of light main courses of risotto with options for seafood, meat and vegetables, pasta with an array of sauces, Torino di Spinaci - a spinach flan (cakes).
The starters include Tuscan style pappa al pomodoro with bread crumbs, cheese, green leafy salads, quiche, cold meat cuts and fresh fruits.
Stefano has a secret wish: he wants to cook pasta with Indian spices and chicken.
"The Ferrari team has to eat high-energy food heavy on meat because they are working on the tracks and logistics throughout the day and Indians should get a taste of authentic Italian food," he said.