Celebrity chef Vikas Khanna served Pope Francis 13 dishes developed by Indian Christians at the Vatican on Wednesday, including bebinca, which was developed by Goan nuns who used egg whites to starch their habits, and the yolks to make a sweet dish that evolved over time to become the famous seven-layer dessert.
"I used a pizza oven to make the Bebinca. I could not make all seven layers, I made only four," said Khanna. "It has not sunk in yet that I served the Pope a dish created by the Christians in Goa."
Khanna cooked for Pope Francis after a years-long discussion he had had with him about the hunger initiative, according to the Hindustan Times. His 13 dishes included a vegetable stew made at Kolkata's Missionaries of Charity, which is cooked in mustard oil with paanch phoran, a five-spice mix.
After cooking the Pope's dinner, Khanna met him for a few minutes, and gave the pontiff a copy of his book, Utsav, which celebrates the dishes of 26 festivals and 50 ceremonies from different communities across India.
According to Khanna, the Pope spent some time looking at a photograph of Christmas celebrations that included a woman in a burkha carrying a child in her lap and holding another's hand, with both children dressed as Santa Claus. "He said it is really beautiful," said Khanna.
Khanna spent three days preparing the Pope's dinner. As he does not speak Italian, but had to work with a team that only speaks that language, they communicated via a translation app.
"It's been the most awesome three days of my life," said Khanna, who received a rose ring from the Pope. "I'm going to savour it for the rest of life."