AMRITSAR: It was a banquet that was set to impress kings, complete with an array of delicacies that represented Punjab’s rich culinary tradition. At the dinner hosted for delegates of the two-day Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and other delegates relished Punjabi cuisine in a ‘langar’ (community kitchen). The dinner was organised in the heritage village Sadda Pind on Amritsar-Attari Road.
The menu included a variety of Punjab specials: fish tikka, Afghani murg tikka, Galouti kabab, paneer malai seekh, aloo channa tikka, etc. The main course comprised sarson ka saag and makki ki roti, the famous Punjab butter chicken, lamb and paneer dishes, dal and jeera pulao served with assorted Punjabi breads. For dessert, there was phirni and kesar kulfi.
A senior official said, “A sumptuous dinner was served for the dignitaries.” He said that Modi, Ghani and other foreign delegates spent an hour at the village, adding that around 200 people were on the guest list.
The heritage village features houses of potters, weavers, blacksmiths and other artisans who make parandis, juttis, phulkaris, clay toys, musical instruments, dhurries, farming tools and shawls.
Gold Replicas of Golden Temple for Modi, Ghani
Modi and Ghani were given 24-carat gold replicas of the Golden Temple, five books each (The Golden Temple: A Gift to Humanity, The Tenth Guru, Philosophy of Sikhism, The Sikhs and a book with black and white photos of the Golden Temple between 1809 and 1960), a siropa (saffron cloth) and a shawl. The other 14 foreign ministers were given smaller replicas of the Golden Temple and books.
Modi to stay at Taj
The Prime Minister spent the night at the Taj Vivanta, while Ghani stayed at another five-star hotel. Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Policy Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, arrived in Amritsar on Saturday evening from Islamabad. He was earlier scheduled to arrive on Sunday.
Police at Their Polite Best
Punjab Police personnel were dressed in suits and were at their courteous best. At the main venue, Hotel Radisson Blue, the outer security ring was armed uniformed cops. Just inside the gates, young men and women cops in blue blazers, grey pants, white shirts and red ties said, “Hello sir, how are you. Sorry for bothering you. Can you step aside for the screening please? Sorry for the inconvenience.’’