Dubai: Indian Prime Minister Modi is open to experimenting with food and flavours as long as they are vegetarian, said chef Sanjeev Kapoor, who has been cooking him meals with an Arabic twist during his visit to the UAE.
According to Kapoor, upon sampling the staple breakfast of foul medames for breakfast, the charismatic politician compared the cooked fava bean mix to the Indian ‘paav bhaji’ (bread with mashed mixed vegetable curry).
Modi also sampled the Emirati dessert aseeda fused with rice cake, which reminded him of the Indian halwa, and a no-meat version of harees, which is a dish made with wheat and meat.
“He believes in simple vegetarian food and is a believer that food is a great way to learn about each other’s countries and cultures … So there was a lot of food that fused elements from India and the UAE,” said Kapoor in an interview with Gulf News.
The award-winning chef, who has his own culinary outposts in the UAE with restaurants The Signature in Dubai and The Yellow Chilli in Abu Dhabi, said that the political heavy-weight has taught him a thing or two about food during his current Middle Eastern tour.
“We were talking about parathas [flat-breads] and he told me about this paratha made with drum-sticks. It sounded very interesting and I told him that I am going try making it in my kitchen,” said Kapoor.
According to Kapoor, the Indian PM is open to trying different dishes as long as they have no meat, poultry or eggs in them.
However, he doesn’t have any allergies which makes it easier to tailor his meals. Dosas, beetroot minced kebabs and the comfort Indian food dal and rice always feature on his plate.
This time around, mezzes containing hummus along with an Indian raita (curd) with sprinklings of pomegranate and walnuts were some of the highlights.
“Our Indian Prime Minister is a dream to cook for. He is not fussy and loves unpretentious food. They needn’t be fancy, so we concentrate on making it nutritious and healthy. He has such a busy schedule, so I made sure that he ate food that gives you energy,” said Kapoor.
A flat-bread with nine ancient grains such as millets and rice was served for Modi’s breakfast.
During the dinner on Saturday night at the palace in Abu Dhabi, the menu choices were a bit more elaborate.
Saffron rice infused with stock from different Indian spices, quinoa cake and a moong dal bhujia (dollop of cooked lentils) served on a metallic spoon as appetizers and a pumpkin pudding dessert made it to their tables last night.
A team under Kapoor’s trained eye has been working round the clock to roll out the meals.
“There is always anxiety when you are serving important people, but our Prime Minister doesn’t fill you with any worries as he is open to exploring food.”
It isn’t the first time that Kapoor is serving Modi and team. In 2015, an elaborate dinner was laid out at the Emirates Palace for Modi and his guests.