President APJ Abdul Kalam is a non-fussy, frugal veggie. Curd rice and idli-sambhar are constants in his menu with add-ons like pickles, chutneys and pappads. To beat the heat these days, the ‘man with silver locks’ guzzles down swigs of coconut water every now and then. Not to mention that chai remains as much a part of his routine as his daily political appointments. And fruits like papaya, dates and oranges complete his fibre chart.
However, of late, it seems that he has developed an appetite for colonial cuisine.
For Rashtrapati Bhavan has recently opened its first-ever Kitchen Museum to savour the ‘erstwhile tastebuds’.
An idea suggested by Kalam and put together by a team headed by KT Ravindran, Dean of School of Planning and Architecture, the museum showcases artifacts from the collection of the President’s household some dating back to the pre-independence era. Starting from culinary skills to serving, dining and equipment for out-door picnics (with six locking systems), the kitchen museum inhabits a whiff of the colonial gastronomic delights.
Food habits of Lord Irvin come alive as one sees the dining table designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens placed in the midst of the archival kitchenware.
Cigar cutters, cocktail shakers, grape scissors, butter knives ornamented with Chinese motifs and wine labels like Sherry, Burgundy, Vermouth et al only say the least about their royal lifestyle. A three-feet tall coffee maker with London WC on the hologram is testimony to the British dominance.
Open for public viewing, the exhibits include ‘Star of India’ crockery, silver cutlery, kitchenware, crystal glass wares, silver dishes, fruit stands, ceramic items et al. Sitting pretty on the shelves, these items are carefully selected as a representative set from a variety of artifacts that have been used in the building. Taking care of the rich architectural details, the museum space is located right below the dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan to harmonise with the character of the rest of the building.
Being sensitive to the disabled, the display units have been carefully designed at a low height to facilitate viewing by children and wheel-chair users. Also, Braille translations and specific design details make the Kitchen Museum accessible for the visually impaired. All in all, it can be concluded by what President Kalam signed it off as in the visitor’s notebook, “Greetings Good Collection.” Certainly, we agree.
To make a visit, call: 23012960, 23015321.