NEW DELHI: The US secretary of state seems to be going desi. It has been Indian all the way for Hillary Clinton as she packs in a tight schedule on
her maiden political visit.
From Tulsiiced tea and organic puffed rice to sikandari raan and malai tikka, Clinton’s Indian saga has been kept wholly desi in the gastronomic arena as well. So much so that on Monday, even the PM preferred to opt for an Indian menu at the traditional sit-down lunch he had hosted for the US secretary.
The lunch with starters like murgh parcha and entree dum pukht biryani was well appreciated, said sources. ‘‘ The secretary is quite knowledgeable about Indian cuisine and enjoys the food,’’ said a member who had attended the lunch. It’s an observation that Maurya’s senior executive chef Manisha Bhasin agrees to. The chef, who had prepared a special menu for Clinton for her visit to the ITC Green Centre, said the Indian theme had been deliberate at the ITC.
‘‘ The ingredients were wholly Indian and organic — we had prepared the lunch as Locavore, which is basically food made from local produce grown within a 100 km radius,’’ claimed Bhasin. The Indian touch certainly went down well. The Sunday lunch menu, featuring desi ingredients like ragi, fennel, jaggery and Ramdana in continental food apparently was liked so much by Clinton that she asked for some to be packed for her separately. Cardamom masala tea and Tulsi-iced tea also found favour with her entourage, said sources. It was, however, the Bukhara dinner that really rounded up Clinton’s Indian experience. The secretary’s order, which is now being billed as the Hillary Platter by the restaurant, seemed to have made quite an impression as she reportedly commented that Bill (Clinton) would be sorry to have missed the dinner.
The 30-year old Bukhara menu, which hotel sources said had not been changed since inception, scored the most with the dal. Sources said Clinton enjoyed it immensely, apart from the other dishes she had ordered like paneer tikka, tandoori aloo, murgh malai kebab, seekh kebab and sikandari raan. It’s a dish that the Clinton family had also reportedly enjoyed on their last visit in 2000.
Not much of a dessert person, Clinton apparently preferred to stick to mint tea at Sunday’s dinner, though the rest of her eight-member party enjoyed Indian desserts. Sources informed that Clinton and her party spent almost two hours at the restaurant , enjoying the Indian dinner leisurely. It’s certainly being seen as an honour by Bhasin, who says she’s been part of several other high-profile dinners — like Vladimir Putin, John Major and Condoleezza Rice — but really enjoyed the Clinton’s visit. ‘‘ They are very warm people,’’ added the chef. The Indian experience would certainly suggest so.