ABU DHABI Three days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi left the UAE the taste of his historic visit is still lingering.
For celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who flew to the capital to cook for Modi at the invitation of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, there was one big takeaway: the fact that the Indian premier’s VVIP hosts became vegetarian for a night.
Not one to take chances, Kapoor said he had prepared a five-course non-vegetarian meal for the local dignitaries along with the menu for the famously vegetarian Modi.
But he and Modi were in for a surprise when the guests, including His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, sat down to dinner at Jumeirah Etihad Towers on Sunday.
“None of the 12 dignitaries at the table touched meat. I was told that they would all stick to the vegetarian meal as a mark of respect for Modi’s culinary preference. This was a huge honour for our prime minister,” said Kapoor, who has prepared meals for several high-profile personalities including the late prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi.
Kapoor said Modi was touched by his hosts’ gesture and thanked them for their warmth and hospitality.
Kapoor said there was a huge variety to choose from on the vegetarian menu which included coconut khandavi with mango salsa, chakri, lauki kachumber and fafda chutney, shorba, khaman dhokla, besides Modi’s favourite traditional Gujarati thali. Arabic cuisine favourites like hot and cold mezzeh, grilled halloumi and falafel were also served. Dessert comprised 100-karat gold amarkhand with platinum pebbles and fresh fruit.
Kapoor said after dinner Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, commented that everyone liked the meal so much they did not mind becoming vegetarians.
“The best compliment for me was that nobody missed non-vegetarian food,” said Kapoor, who had prepared such delicacies as murg zatar parmesan tikka, dal ghost and murghanu shaak.
The master chef, who charges up to $20,000 for an hour’s cooking demonstration, said he did not take a penny for his high-profile assignment in Abu Dhabi.
“It is an honour and a privilege to cook for Modi. I enjoyed every minute with him and that itself was my reward,” said Kapoor, who also served breakfast and lunch for the prime minister at Emirates Palace, where Modi was staying before he left for Dubai on Monday.
“For breakfast, I served south Indian dosas, upma besides Gujarati delicacies like fafda and dhokla. But the prime minister was keen on trying the local food. He especially liked the ful medames (bean dish).”
“The one hour I spent with him at breakfast was like the ‘Chai pe Charcha’. He spoke to me about everything from Ayurvedic diets to food tourism.”
Source: Gulf News