US President Barack Obama now has an official platter named after him at the Bukhara, the fine Indian dining restaurant at the ITC Maurya, in the footsteps of former US president Bill Clinton. However, a rushed Obama did not have much time to savour the food.
The platter was unveiled at lunch on Monday on the Presidential Floor -- because President Obama was rushed for time to visit the restaurant for lunch.
Obama could not find time for the Bukhara because he was scheduled to meet United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj, a source in the hotel said. Obama reportedly sampled a bit of the food.
"He was in a tearing hurry and kept changing his schedule to meet more people from the political corridors of power," the source said.
The platter comprised of lamb dishes and a special kebab -- tender chunks of lamb flavoured delicately with spices -- created especially for the US president. The Obamas, who were supposed to drop by for a sampling in the evening, decided to have a dekko at noon after a press conference at Hyderabad House.
According to the source, the chef complained that "he did not have time to put together all that was planned because it had to be sent up to his suite at lunch".
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 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 supposed to have been either "ras malai and kulfi" - dishes that tickled the Clinton palate.
The president and his wife rushed to the presidential banquet after parleys in the afternoon, the source said.
But Tuesday morning, before Barack and Michelle Obama left for the airport at 9 am to board a fight to Indonesia, he 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 The ITC Maurya were impressed by the 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," the source said.
The Clinton Platter, named after Bill Clinton after his visit in 2006 and which costs around Rs 5,000, is an aromatic spread of mixed meats, lentils and oven-baked bread.