When Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts a meal, it’s unlikely dhokla will not be on the menu. And the meal he’s hosting for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on September 24 is no different. Except this time, the Gujarati snack will take the form of corn dhokla molten cake served with a berry compote, which has been rustled up by Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna.
Khanna, who owns the award-winning restaurant, Junoon, in New York, has been labouring over a seven-course meal for a month, and will be presenting a range of dishes themed on the festivals of India. Among the dishes on the menu are sevaiyan cakes and rolls inspired by the Jama Masjid, coconut chutney mousse, pongal and bisi bele bath served as rice porridge and Parsi patrani fish.
“It will be a mix of Indian cuisines. The meal will not only focus on treats from Diwali, Eid and Christmas but also other festivals like the Hornbill festival of Nagaland and the Bohada tribal festival of Maharashtra,” says Khanna’s representative Deepika Bansal. Khanna was not available for comment.
Kokum and black coconut jaggery have been flown to New York from Goa along with fiery Kolhapuri chillies, which will be used in “chilli pearls”, and other ingredients like edible gold foil for the meal tomorrow. Khanna has been prepping for more than 250 hours at Junoon, and staff from the restaurant will be assisting him during the meal at the Waldorf Astoria.
Khanna will be teaming Mathura ke pedhe with chicken and black rice from Mizoram. “The chef has gone to every festival around the country and this has inspired the menu, which is based on his book Utsav: A culinary epic of Indian festivals,” says Bansal.
One dish that is likely to draw appreciation is the modak foam, inspired by singer Lata Mangeshkar’s modak recipe. “Khanna visits Lata Mangeshkar every year during the Ganpati festival, and he has given her recipe a twist,” says Bansal.
Amritsar-born Khanna, who has worked with leading chefs like Gordon Ramsay, was invited by the Indian government to plan and serve a meal celebrating the country.