ASEAN leaders savour an Indian feast

New Delhi, Dec 21: For the heads of state, government and even a sultan, it was the finest in Indian cuisine that was on offer at Taj Palace Hotel where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur hosted a luncheon in honour of ASEAN leaders here Friday.

The leaders from the ten ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) were here for the two-day Commemorative Summit to celebrate 20 years of thier special relationship.

For non-vegetarians, which most of the visiting delegations from Southeast Asia were, there was tawa masala pomfret and makhmali murgh kebab as starters, followed by gosht barrah rogini, ghia ka kofta, rajmah and dahi for the main course. The last three items were common to vegetarians as well.

For the silver service, it was khusk gajar mutter, laccha basket, goan prawn curry, aloo gobhi and subz dum biryani. Other than prawns, the rest were common to vegetarians.

For vegetarians its was bhuna jeera paneer tikka and pudina matar kebab as starters, followed by paneer nizampur and malai gucchi dhingri (morels and mushroom in aromatic gravy).

For dessert, there were north Indian favourites gajar halwa and kesari phirni followed by a sandesh selection (Indian friandises).

And, to commemorate the occcasion, the Taj Group gave the menu, which was engraved on a palm-shaped marble slab with a gold necklace-shaped intricate inlay work embossed on its back, to all the guests, who included Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who many in the party consider the prime minister-in-waiting.

Leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore Thailand and Vietnam were present at the lunch at the Durbar Hall.

The hotel was made virtually out of bounds for ordinary visitors and a ring of security thrown around and on roads leading to it.

IANS