G20 2023: 3 Star Chefs Create Millet Magic For The First Ladies
Image Credit: Instagram/Agriculture India

The 18th G20 Summit is being organized in New Delhi and today is the second day of this landmark event, taking place in India for the very first time. The event has brought together leaders from 20 major economies and the European Union including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Among several special arrangements made for the World Leaders and their family members, several attempts have been made to offer an exceptional culinary experience to the guests. While the chefs from the ITC group have meticulously prepared over 500 dishes, the spouses of the leaders had the privilege of enjoying a millet-based lunch prepared live by renowned chefs Kunal Kapoor, Anahita Dhondy and Ajay Chopra at the IARI Campus. While Anahita was in charge of starters, Chef Kunal Kapur and Chef Ajay Chopra were in charge of main-course and dessert respectively.

Video credits: Sanjeev Kapoor Khana Khazana

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Kunal Kapur

For the meal which was served to the Spouses of the State Heads, Kunal Kapur prepared a vegetarian version of Khichra. The chef used mushrooms to give the dish a meaty texture while keeping it completely vegetarian. Keeping millets in the forefront, Chef Kunal included Jowar in the Khichra accompanied with a broth and a salad. Kapur's choice of ingredients hinted towards his innovative approach to traditional Indian cuisine. This not only was on the lines of the UN's focus on millets, but it also presented Bharat’s rich culinary heritage. 

In a post shared on Instagram, Chef Kunal said, “Many of you have asked me about what I prepared for the First Ladies at the summit. The meal I prepared consisted of Millet-based dishes, with a special highlight being the 'Jowar & Mushroom Khichda.' Traditionally Khitchda or Khitchra is a slow-cooked dish made with meat, broken wheat & spices. It is a recipe that takes its lineage from Harees (mention of which is in the oldest surviving cookbook called “Kitaab Al Tabikh” written in the 10th century) The term Khitchadi may have been borrowed from Khitchra. I added different varieties of mushrooms to give it a plant-based, vegetarian twist.

"This adaptation retains the meaty texture and flavours of the original dish while highlighting the delicious and healthy aspects of vegetarian cuisine. “The mushrooms I used were pink oysters, chanterelles, shiitake, enoki, portobello and our humble khumb (button mushrooms). Happy to say all these international mushrooms were locally grown”, he added.

  •  Chef Kunal Kapur with the special Jowar & Mushroom Khichda prepared for the First Ladies.

  • Jowar & Mushroom Khichda made by Chef Kunal Kapur

Chef Anahita Dhondy

Chef Anahita Dhondy chose to prepare a delicious Raw Banana Barnyard Millet Tikki for the First Ladies. On the lines of the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets, Chef Anahita showcased a humble dish i.e., a raw banana cutlet filled with Barnyard millet and coated with puffed amaranth. She also shared a glimpse of the starter she cooked for the First Ladies on Instagram.

She wrote, “An absolute honour as I cooked for the spouses of the G-20 Summit this afternoon. I showcased a humble little dish, which has always been appreciated - A raw banana cutlet.. in Gujarati ‘Kera Na Cutlets’ which was filled with Barnyard millet and coated with puffed amaranth. I plated it in a mitti ka katora with two chutneys which made it look like a flag.

She added, “The conversation between the First Ladies while I demonstrated the dish is something I’ll truly cherish forever. To the First Lady of the UK, Mrs. Akshata Murty, it was lovely meeting you and talking about the Parsi Community and its food culture. So happy and proud to showcase both - Parsi Food and Millets on this Global Stage.”

  • Chef Anahita Dhondy Bhandari posing for a picture with the Raw Banana Barnyard Millet Tikki

  • Raw Banana Barnyard Millet Tikki filled with Barnyard millet, coated with puffed amaranth and served in a mitti ka katora with two chutneys.

Chef Ajay Chopra

Chef Ajay Chopra was in charge of dessert, and he prepared a delicious Lemon Mille-Feuille which was both healthy and tasty. This was a Thekua-inspired cookie that was given a healthy and tasty twist with ragi aka finger millet. The thekua-inspired cookies were layered with lemon curd also called Shrikhand sweetened with some millet khichdi and fruits.

Chef Ajay Chopra too took to Instagram and shared his experience. He wrote in a post, “Such an honour to serve First Ladies of the world. @murtyakshatathe First Lady of @great__britain_, @emineerdogan from @turkiye @amellederbaudrenghien from the European Union and many more. I've always tried to play the role of cooking with Millets and educating people around the world through my cooking. It's always a pleasure and an Honour to represent India.

  • Chef Ajay Chopra's thekua-inspired cookie made with ragi and topped with shrikhand

  • Chef Ajay Chopra posing with a plate of Lemon Mille-Feulli, a thekua-inspired cookie