At the culmination of the first day of the G20 Leaders Summit in New Delhi, India, a lavish dinner was hosted, showcasing the nation’s culinary prowess to esteemed world leaders. Millet, a dietary cornerstone for millions of Indians, took center stage in this extravagant affair.
The high-profile gathering saw an array of dishes featuring millet, gracing the tables of luminaries such as U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The event, orchestrated by Indian President Droupadi Murmu, unfolded with a three-course vegetarian feast, artfully celebrating the “abundance of the autumn season” through diverse millet-based creations.
The pièce de résistance was a delectable jackfruit pastry accompanied by glazed forest mushrooms, crispy millet snacks, and Kerala red rice seasoned with fragrant curry leaves. The spread also included Bakarkhani, a sumptuous sweet flatbread emblematic of Mughlai cuisine, as well as the renowned “Pao” soft buns from the bustling streets of Mumbai.
To complement these culinary delights, the beverage selection was equally diverse and culturally rich. Guests had the opportunity to savor Kashmiri kahwa from the northern regions of India, the iconic filter coffee of South India, and the revered Darjeeling tea.
Millet, often heralded as a healthier alternative to wheat or rice, has gained popularity following its designation as the “International Year of Millets” in 2023 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This versatile and environmentally friendly superfood previously made an appearance at the White House during a state dinner held in honor of Prime Minister Modi.
The G20 summit, on the other hand, focused its attention on a consensus declaration that refrained from directly condemning Russia for its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. Instead, it urged all nations to abstain from using force to acquire territory. Even in this geopolitical context, millet found its way into the declaration, emphasizing the importance of research collaboration to promote climate-resilient and nutritious grains like millets, quinoa, sorghum, as well as traditional staples like rice, wheat, and maize.
In this grand display of Indian hospitality and gastronomy, millet took on a prominent role, not only as a symbol of sustenance for millions but also as a beacon of dietary innovation and global cooperation in the face of evolving nutritional needs and climate challenges.