It was a taste of India at President Barack Obama’s First State Dinner, where he welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Hindi and treated him to a range of vegetarian delicacies, including dishes prepared with herbs from the White House kitchen garden.
Even before Dr. Singh, the state guest, and more than 300 other invitees were served some of the Indian delicacies at the huge tent pitched at the South Lawns of the White House, Mr. Obama set the tone by greeting in Hindi ‘Aaapka Swagat Hai’ (You are welcome).
Some of the dishes were prepared by the White House chef from the kitchen garden of the First Lady, Michelle Obama.
To begin with, the guests were served ‘Potato and Eggplant Salad, White House Arugula With Onion Seed Vinaigrette’, followed by ‘Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese.’
Then the guests were treated to ‘Roasted Potato Dumplings with Tomato Chutney Chick Peas and Okra’, ‘Green Curry Prawns Caramelized Salsify with Smoked Collard Greens’ and ‘Coconut Aged Basmati’
‘Pumpkin Pie Tart Pear Tatin Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce’ was on their desert; and finally they were served ’Petits Fours and Coffee Cashew Brittle Pecan Pralines Passion Fruit and Vanilla Gelees Chocolate-Dipped Fruit.’
According to the White House, Ms. Michelle Obama worked with Guest Chef Marcus Samuelsson and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and her team to create a menu that also reflected the best of American cuisine, continuing with the White House’s commitment to serving fresh, sustainable and regional food, and honouring the culinary excellence and flavours that are present in Indian cuisine.
White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses and his team created the desserts, including pears poached in honey from the White House beehives.
Desserts were garnished with mint and lemon verbena grown in the White House kitchen garden.
The guests were seated at round tables for ten, covered in apple green linens. Deep purple flower arrangements at each table reminded of India’s national bird --Peacock.
The centrepiece bouquets were composed of flowers evocative of a classic American garden: hydrangea, garden roses, and sweet peas in a rich palette of deep plum, purple and fuchsia.
Arrangements of magnolia branches surround the walls of the tent as magnolias are native to both India and the US.
The magnolia, ivy, and nandina foliage used for the occasion are locally grown and sustainably harvested.
After the dinner, the bouquets will be recycled and re-used throughout the White House.