NEW DELHI: Rich culinary traditions from Kashmir to West Bengal were spread out in the lavish banquet in honour visiting US President Barack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
Famous signature meat preparations from the Valley, Kashmiri Gushtaba, tender meat balls made with a complex mix of spices, and aromatic Rogan Josh were specially prepared by Rashtrapati Bhavan chefs to tickle the palate of the visiting dignitaries.
Famous Galauti kebabs of Lucknow, roasted leg of lamb, fish curries in different Bengali preparations and chicken tikka from Punjab were laid out for Obama and his wife Michelle at the banquet in their honour hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee.
For vegetarians, the choice was limited with Kadhi Pakoda and dal, rice for them. Malpua from Bihar and north Indian delicacy Rabri was served as the dessert.
Amid clinking of cutlery during the banquet, symbolic musical scores ranging from "Yes We Can" of famous Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am in English tune to motivational rendition of Rabindranath Tagore "Ekla Chalo Re" kept them entertained.
A medley of songs from Hawai, where Obama was born and raised, including chants like 'Kawika', Michael Jackson hit number 'We Are the World' and Stevie Wonder's 'Part Time Lover' besides number of Hindi and English songs provided much needed soothing atmosphere to the dignitaries after a hectic day of parlays.
Besides the President, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi attended the banquet.
Other host of dignitaries present at the banquet included chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra-- Akhilesh Yadav, N Chandrababu Naidu, Vasundhara Raje and Devendra Fadnavis-- respectively.
Ratan Tata, Mukesh and Anil Ambani and Gautam Adani were among those from the business community at the banquet. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi were also there.
Sachin Tendulkar, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and tennis star Sania Mirza had expressed their regret for not able to attend the banquet.
Kashmir Made its Menu Felt: Omar
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said Kashmir might not have figured during talks between US President Barack Obama and
Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the Valley has made its presence felt through the dishes on the menu at the banquet of the visiting dignitary.
"Kashmir may not have figured in the discussions but it's making its presence felt at the banquet in the menu - veg haak (Lettuce) & mutton Gushtaba," Omar wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter.
Omar also made oblique reference to delay in government formation by the PDP and BJP in the state saying the patron of the regional party Mufti Mohammad Sayeed could have attended Obama's banquet, if he had already allied with the ruling party at the Centre.
"If Mufti hadn't waited this long to ally with @BJP4India he could have been at the banquet & claimed to have discussed Kashmir with Obama," the National Conference working president said.