Reena Pushkarna’s dream came true when she received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman 2023 by the President of India, Draupadi Murmu on Jan. 10, 2023.
Born in New Delhi to a Jewish Iraqi born mother and an Indian father, Pushkarna is a notable figure in the Israel-business and cultural arena. Speaking to New India Abroad, she says that she’s working towards having a member of the Indian community in the Israel Parliament.
Pushkarna is a celebrity chef, restaurateur, business entrepreneur and a member of Advisory Council of the India-Israel Asia Centre. She has already expressed this wish to her government in Israel. “I have explained my wish to them. I hope they will do it.”
The 64-year-old runs a chain of Indian restaurants Tandoori/ Kohinoor across Israel, and has produced a line of Kosher frozen Indian food for supermarkets in Europe, Canada and the US. Indian food has brought variety in the world’s food palate, she says adding that people in Israel love Chicken Tikka Masala cooked in Indian style.
A vegetarian herself, Pushkarna helped Israelis discover a new cuisine with vegetables. When she started, they didn’t know what vegetarian food was all about.“ I always said and taught the Israeli people that we are not salad eaters. We like our vegetables to be cooked, our vegetables to be spiced and our vegetarian food to be tasty which led them to discover new cuisine,” explained the Chef, who’s favorite food is Dal-Rice.
She further adds that 30 percent of Israelis have turned vegan today. Veganism is a huge change happening all over the world. Vegetarian food has always been a part of Indian culture and the whole world is realizing its importance now.
Pushkarna advised Indian food restaurateurs to explore opportunities in the vegan food industry with patience and determination. “It was very difficult for me to set up an Indian restaurant in Israel, but we did not give up. My family supported me unless I achieved what I wanted. This is my message to Indian restaurateurs to not give up and follow their dreams,” she concludes.