The state of Himachal Pradesh is afoot for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival as he is set to fly to the state for inaugurating the newly constructed Atal Rohtang Tunnel —world’s longest traffic tunnel at a height of 10,000 feet —on Saturday. The Prime Minister is not only going to get a red carpet-welcome but will also receive a back-stage treat for his culinary tastes.
On the table for the Prime Minister’s lunch are going to be some of the delicious cuisines from the Himalayas, some of these will be his own favourites from the days when he was national BJP in-charge in Himachal Pradesh.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the tourism portfolio will himself pick some delicacies from the menu prepared by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC).
On Wednesday, Thakur is set to fly to Manali with a team of top officers to oversee the arrangements for the Prime Minister’s visit. The officers will also review arrangements at the Rohtang Tunnel and Sisu in Lahaul valley and Solang Nullah which have been finalised for PM Modi’s rally –two separate places to stagger the crowd keeping in mind Covid-19 protocols and social distancing norms.
A special team of chefs led by Deputy General Manager, HPTDC, Nand Lal Sharma has already reached Manali to take charge of the PM’s kitchen and the dishes which will be served to the VVIPs.
Of all the dishes to be laid on the lunch table, Guchchi – the most expensive wild mushroom of Himalayas, continues to remain a dominant delicacy loved by PM Modi.
Guchchi cannot be cultivated commercially and instead it grows wild only in some regions like Kullu-Manali, Chamba, Kangra and Pangi valley apart from some areas of Shimla which receive snow. The market value of Guchchi is around Rs 40,000 per kg.
The villagers do hard labour to collect these from the forests and valleys, sometimes digging through thick layers of snow. The mushroom grows in clusters on logs of decaying wood or decaying leaves and even in humus soil.
Siddu is another Kullu delicacy chosen for Prime Minister. It is steamed bread like bun and made from wheat flour (yeast) only. Siddu is steamed to keep the taste and nutrients of the ingredients like walnut, poppy seeds and soaked pomegranate seeds intact for their fragrance and taste. It is served with hot desi ghee poured on it along with green Chutney.
The Prime Minister’s menu is also likely to include some other traditional cuisines like ‘Madra’—a Chamba delicacy consisting of soaked chickpeas (chana) or vegetables. It is cooked in the oil along with various spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, cumin, coriander powder and turmeric powder which enhance the taste of the delicacy.
Himachali Sepu Vadi —a dish from Mandi, Chief Minister’s home district is certainly going to be part be on the menu. Made with “Urad dal” and part of all big celebrations in Mandi, the dish saw its mention by the Prime Minister during his Lok Sabha election rally in Mandi. Also, on the table is Kadu –Amla, said an official of the state’s hospitality department.
For Prime Minister’s dessert; Makki (flour) ka halwa, Bathu ki kheer—a special dessert prepared with Chenopodium seeds, milk and sugar, and Giche are included in the list.
Officials however say two cabinet ministers, Govind Singh Thakur who hails from Manali and Dr Ram Lal Markanda the incumbent MLA from Lahaul –Spiti want some of other ethnic dishes to be laid for the Prime Minister. The final menu will only be released on Wednesday evening when Chief Minister gets a look at the list.
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