A varied Gujarati vegetarian platter cooked to spicy perfection and served in shiny copperware awaits the premier and first lady of Japan, a country known for its sushi and teriyaki.
The occasion: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dinner on Wednesday for state guests Shinzo Abe and wife Akie Abe in Ahmedabad.
The place chosen for the banquet is Agashiye, a popular terrace restaurant of the House of Mangaldas heritage hotel where a bustle of friendly staff in dhoti, kurta and safa, a headgear, wait on patrons.
The spread includes more than 30 items. Melt-in-the-mouth khaman dhoklas, raspatra and gota fritters, mushy rice kichidi, saucy kadhi, a bitter gourd and onion sabji called bharela karela-dungri, and flatbreads such as bhakri, rotla and roti, besides the deep-fried puri.
These will be accompanied by curries such as sev-tomato, mixed-vegetable undhiyu, a garlicky potato dish called lasaniya bateta, and an assortment of dals, yoghurt raita and srikhand. Wash it all down with cool masala butter milk.
For dessert, ghee-roasted gram flour sweet mohanthal, halwa and juicy jalebi are on the menu.
The restaurant staff have ticked their checklist already for the meal. They will have two government-appointed chefs from both countries to supervise what’s cooking.
Located in the city’s old eastern suburbs, Agashiye overlooks the Sidi Saiyyed mosque, famous for its intricate jali or stone lattice work.
Modi will be taking his guests for an evening walk to the iconic landmark before dinner.
Prime minister Abe will stay at the five-star Hyatt during his two-day visit, while Modi will be in Raj Bhavan.
Lunch on Thursday will be a vegetarian fare too. The two leaders will have bilateral talks at Mahatma Mandir, a convention centre designed around Gandhian philosophy.
Chief minister Vijay Rupani will host a banquet for the two prime ministers later at night.
Japan is known for its seafood and meat but it has an age-old relationship with vegetarianism. In the 13th century, Buddhist monks popularised a form of cuisine called shojinryori using seasonal vegetables, tofu and seeds.