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Washington, June 22 – Millet, the coarse and hearty cereal India has been pushing on the world, will make a glitzy first world splash at a state dinner US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden are hosting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Thursday.
Millet stalks will be seen in the talons of a peacock that will form the backdrop for Prime Minister Modi during his remarks.
The first course will feature marinated millet with grilled corn kernel salad and compressed watermelon, according to the menu previewed by the White House, along with tasting during a preview of the arrangements conducted by the First Lady, Chef Nina Curtis, who planned the menu.
At the suggestion of the Indian government, the UN has declared 2023 as the Year of Millet. This coarsed-grained cereal, which is grown in abundance in Asia and Africa, is healthy, hearty and drought-resistant, qualities that make it a great candidate for sustainable farming and food security.
“With this official state visit we are bringing together the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies. After years of straightening ties, the US-India partnership is deep and expansive as we jointly tackle global challenges. But our relationship is it only about governments. We are celebrating the families, and friendships that span the globe to those who feel the bonds of home both in both of our countries,” Biden said at the press preview.
“As some of you may know, Prime Minister Modi is a vegetarian. So we asked Chef Nina Curtis, a plant-based pioneer, to work with our White House chefs and create a stunning vegetarian menu,” she said further, adding, “guess will have the option to add fish (Sumac-roasted Sea Bass) to the main course if they choose”.
The first time Modi had dinner in the White House — in September, 2014 — he made do with just a glass of warm water. It were the navratras then and he was fasting. It was a small dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Prime Minister Modi and his team of officials.
Along with marinated millet and grilled corn salad, guests will be served compressed watermelon and tangy avocado sauce.
The main course will be stuffed portobello mushrooms and creamy risotto infused with — with an Indian touch — saffron.
The colour saffron will dominate the decor in a nod to Indian culture and the Tricolour. Guests will walk into the pavilion on the South Lawn draped in rich green and there will be saffron flowers on every table, which, Biden noted to reporters, are “the colours of the Indian flag”.
For a further Indian touch, wine to be served at the dinner includes PATEL Red Blend 2019, a wine from a Napa Valley winery owned by Raj Patel, who came to the US from Gujarat. This wine retails for $75 a bottle, according to the winery’s website. Other wines to be served will be Stone Tower Chardonnay “Kristi” 2021 and Domain Carneros Brut Rose.
Entertainment will feature Penn Masala, which describes itself as the world’s first South Asian Cappella Group. They have performed at the White House before for President Barack Obama.
A Cappella is a music style in which a singer or a group performs without the aid of musical instruments.