US president liked Maurya’s special Obama Platter

By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NEW DELHI - He barely had time to savour the special dish, but US President Barack Obama liked the platter, of lamb dishes and kebabs, named after him at the Bukhara, ITC Maurya’s fine-dining restaurant.

Rushed for time, Obama did not go down to the restaurant to taste the platter. It was instead presented at lunch in his presidential suite at the hotel.

“He liked the little that he ate,” a source at the hotel revealed to IANS.

Now, Obama like his predecessor Bill Clinton has an official platter named after him at the Bukhara.

Obama could not find the time to go to the Bukhara Monday because he was to meet United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj, the source said.

“He was in a tearing hurry and kept changing his schedule to meet more people from the political corridors of power,” the source added.

The chef complained that “I did not have time to put together all that was planned because it had to be sent up to his suite at lunch”, he added.

The Obama Platter was a mix of north Indian and Mughlai delicacies like tandoori raan, tandoori salad, lamb kebab, murg khurchan, fish tikka, reshmi kebab, sikandari raan and tandoori aloo. For dessert, the choice was either “ras malai or kulfi” - dishes that tickled the Clinton palate.

The chefs at Bukhara said “the president had shown keen interest in tasting our ‘thali’, which we call the ‘Obama Platter’. He also mentioned his love for Indian food.”

“A team of chefs, after carefully understanding their (Obamas’) likes and dislikes, came up with the menu,” an official from Bukhara told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The Obamas had earlier decided to sample the platter after the press conference at Hyderabad House.

However, they had to rush to the presidential banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the evening after parleys in the afternoon, the source said.

But Tuesday morning, before the US first couple left for the airport at 9 a.m. to board their fight to Indonesia, Obama was said to have been shown around a part of the sprawling ITC Maurya property.

Obama visited ITC Maurya’s solar heating project - billed to be one of the largest in the world. The facility comprising solar heaters supplies hot water to the kitchen and the baths.

“The facility was first installed at the ITC Gardenia in Bangalore where it worked well. It was later brought to the ITC property in the capital,” the source said.

The staff at ITC Maurya are impressed by the US president’s indefatigable energy.

“The rush didn’t show a bit on his face. He appeared fresh as a daisy. Sample this: he addressed a press conference at the Hyderabad House, returned to the hotel, picked at his platter in his suite, changed, met Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj and then rushed to the banquet,” the source said.

The key to his agile self and rigorous work schedule is his fitness regime. “He did not compromise on his workouts in the morning. An early riser, he spent time at the gym on Monday as well as today (Tuesday),” the source said.

The Clinton Platter, named after Bill Clinton following his visit in 2006 and which costs around Rs.5,000, is an aromatic spread of mixed meats, lentils and oven-baked bread.

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