King Carl Gustaf and Queen Sylvia of Sweden were on Tuesday treated to some delectable Indian street food at a lunch hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The spread for the royal couple, prepared by chef Dheeraj Singh, who popularised Indian street food here, included mutton curry and lip-smacking tandoori platter having mushroom, prawns and chicken malai tikka, for starters.
“It’s a dream come true for me. I am so happy about it,” said Singh, who hails from Manali in Himachal Pradesh and is now settled in the Swedish capital.
Thirty-two-year-old Singh shot to fame in Stockholm last month after he won the prestigious ‘Arla Guldko’ (the Golden Cow) award for best street food in Sweden.
The Indian President, known to relish fish, however, preferred vegetarian food on Tuesday and savoured the humble ‘bharva baigan’ (stuffed brinjal) for lunch hosted at the historic 141-year-old ‘Grand Hotel’.
It was at this hotel that Rabindranath Tagore had stayed when he came here to receive his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
For Singh, who has been hired by the hotel, especially for Mukherjee’s visit, the event was like a fairy tale.
“I could never have imagined this day will come in my life when I will be the chef to our President and also lay the table for the King of Sweden,” says Singh, who was busy through the night and on Tuesday morning giving finishing touches to the spread.
Singh, who came to Sweden with a diploma in cookery, feels food is one of the “most important ingredients of diplomacy”.
“Our elders say the road to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” the chef, dressed in black, said, adding that he blended Indian food with salads and some local ingredients to suit the Swedish palate.
Singh’s ‘kathi rolls’, a streetfood originating from Kolkata, which has skewer-roasted kebab wrapped in a paratha bread, is a hit here.
Singh, who has to compete with 100-odd established Indian restaurants in the Swedish capital, said he took great care about serving Indian fare prepared in hygienic atmosphere.
Keeping hygiene in mind, he started preparing food in front of the customers and today runs his eating joints with a partner from three trucks.