Biden to welcome PM Modi with Indian-inspired vegetarian feast

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a White House decorated with peacocks and lotus blooms on Thursday.
A dish is pictured as U.S. first lady Jill Biden hosts a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023.
A dish is pictured as U.S. first lady Jill Biden hosts a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

By Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a White House decorated with peacocks and lotus blooms on Thursday, hosting a vegetarian dinner but no specialties from Modi's home state of Gujarat.

Modi, a strict Hindu who follows a vegetarian diet, will be served a first course that includes a grilled corn kernel salad and tangy avocado sauce, the White House said.

The main course will include portobello mushrooms and creamy saffron-infused risotto, with rose and cardamom-infused strawberry shortcake featured for dessert.

A menu is pictured as U.S. first lady Jill Biden hosts a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023.
A menu is pictured as U.S. first lady Jill Biden hosts a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

With the slightly Indian-accented dinner, the Bidens are following a White House tradition of serving guests from abroad food that has faint echos of home with a strong American bent. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 2009 state dinner featured basmati rice, but also White House grown arugula and pumpkin pie tarts.

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford presents a dish from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023.
White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford presents a dish from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

About 400 guests will dine at the Modi event in a pavilion set up on the South Lawn of the White House, with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet's Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam likely to attend.

"With this official state visit, we are bringing together the world's oldest and the world's largest democracies," Jill Biden told reporters in a preview of the dinner on Wednesday.

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison presents dishes from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023.
White House Executive Pastry Chef Susie Morrison presents dishes from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Entertainment for the evening will include American violinist Joshua Bell and Penn Masala, a South Asian a capella group from the University of Pennsylvania.

Decor will feature elements from American and Indian culture, including imagery of the peacock and the bald eagle, the Indian and U.S. national birds, respectively.

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Guest Chef Nina Curtis present dishes from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023.
White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and Guest Chef Nina Curtis present dishes from the menu during a media preview in advance of Thursday's State Dinner as part of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official visit to the United States, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

The tables will be adorned with lotus blooms, revered in Indian design and a symbol of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose; Editing by Heather Timmons and Sonali Paul)

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