From ice cream to tikka, this Inauguration Day menu celebrates both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Madeline Buiano
·6 min read

After a wild four years filled with twists and turns, Inauguration Day is officially here. On Wednesday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the 46th president and vice president of the United States. The first female (and black, and South Asian-American) vice president is certainly cause for celebration. But the historic day doesn’t just mark the start of a new presidency, it’s also a time for culinary change as well (something tells us there's going to be a lot less fast food, for one).

As indoor dining continues to be banned in states across the country, venturing out for special Inauguration Day lunch menus and bottomless brunches might be a nonstarter. If that’s the case, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the swearing-in from home.

To get you started, we crafted a menu inspired by a few of Biden and Harris’ favorite dishes. From the president-elect’s classic American comforts, to Harris’ complex dishes that pay homage to her Indian heritage, these recipes are a great way to honor the incoming president and vice president-elect.

Mango Lassi

Starting your Inauguration Day festivities off with a refreshing beverage is a must. And a mango lassi is a great way to celebrate Harris’ Indian heritage, as well as Biden’s affinity for sweets rather than alcohol. Lassi, a popular yogurt-based drink, has many variations, including salty ones. But this sweet take on the beverage blends mangoes with yogurt, milk and ice for a velvety smooth concoction.

However, it’s been one heck of a year, so if your Inauguration Day drink of choice is one of the boozy variety, we don’t blame you. If you want to drink in style like Harris, opt for a nice bottle of chardonnay, which the VP-elect has been linked to on a few occasions. Not a fan of wine? Perhaps you’d enjoy a Harris-inspired cocktail instead.

For the Mango Lassi recipe, click here.

Basmati Rice

Not only is Harris the first female vice president but she’s also the first black and Indian-American person elected to the position. She grew up eating South Indian food, which she told actress Mindy Kaling in a 2019 video. The former state senator said she ate a lot of rice and yogurt, potato curry, dal and idli growing up. If you want a guaranteed smile, watch the video of actress Miny Kaling and Harris cooking masala dosas together (Harris admitted it was her first time!).

One easy way to honor her background during Inauguration Day is by making Basmati rice, which is a staple alongside Indian curries. After preparing basmati rice, you can use it in dishes like hyderabadi biryani, a one-pot meal that mixes basmati rice with meat and traditional South-Asian flavors like ginger and masala powder.

For the Basmati Rice recipe, click here.

Roti

Another popular Indian food to serve with curries is roti. To make the unleavened bread you’ll need just three common ingredients: whole wheat flour, water and vegetable oil. Perfecting roti takes a lot of patience and practice, but you’ll know you got it right if the bread puffs up like a pillow when it’s cooking. For a complete Inauguration Day meal, serve the bread with the dhal and tikka masala below, or butter chicken and a dollop of cucumber raita.

For the Roti recipe, click here.

Dhal

One thing that has kept Harris sane throughout her robust political schedule is cooking. She’s even found time to teach her colleagues a thing or two in the kitchen. For New Jersey state senator Cory Booker’s birthday, Harris gifted him a virtual lesson on how to make lentils.

So, what dish could be more fitting to make in her honor than dhal? In this recipe for dhal makhani, black lentils and kidney beans are slow cooked to perfection. The earthy dish is naturally vegan and can be made to any consistency you prefer.

For the Dhal Makhani recipe, click here.

Lobster Tikka Masala

Cooking any type of Indian cuisine would be a great way to honor our first Indian-American vice president during Inauguration Day, but what is Harris' favorite dish? In a question and answer video, Harris said her favorite South Indian dish is idli with a “really good sambar.” But her favorite North Indian dish is “any kind of tikka.”

Tikka masala is commonly made with chicken or paneer, but this elevated version uses celebratory lobster in their place. To make tikka masala you’ll need a variety of common Indian spices on deck, like garam masala and turmeric. Maybe you even store them in repurposed Taster’s Choice containers like Harris herself.

For the Lobster Tikka Masala recipe, click here.

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

While Harris enjoys more complex meals that pack in a variety of spices and seasonings, Biden keeps things simple with favorites like pasta and cheeseburgers. Former President Barack Obama famously said “pasta with red sauce, he can go deep on that” about Biden.

If you want to get really Biden-centric, make this recipe with angel hair pasta (his favorite) and serve with turkey meatballs or air fyer chicken Parmesan (we think Dr. Biden would approve of these healthy spins on the Italian-American classics).

For the Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce recipe, click here.

Classic Cheeseburger

Charcoal Pit is a Delaware icon; Obama and Biden even made a surprise visit to the burger and milkshake joint in 2014. If you visit one of its two locations in Biden’s home state, you’re almost guaranteed to run into someone who knows him personally. Celebrate the small-town president-elect by enjoying a cheeseburger during Inauguration Day. Pair it with a black-and-white milkshake and you’ve got Biden’s go-to order.

For the Classic Beef Cheeseburger recipe, click here.

Roast Chicken

Although Biden and Harris have different food interests, one thing they both can get behind is a good roast chicken. Although Harris prefers her bird prepped the day before with a little bit of lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, this recipe does the trick if you’re cooking the chicken on Inauguration Day.

For the Butter Herb Roast Chicken recipe, click here.

Tuna Melt

April 2020 probably feels like a bajillion years ago, but during the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic, Harris was there to add some joy with her viral tuna melt. The VP-elect taught Virginia Senator Mark Warner how to *correctly* make a tuna fish sandwich on FaceTime.

Follow along with Harris as she talks Warner through the process - or just use this easy sheet pan tuna melt recipe.

For the Sheet Pan Tuna Melt recipe, click here.

Kheer

When you think about dessert in relation to the Biden-Harris ticket, your mind probably wanders to ice cream. But if you’re looking to throw a little Harris flare into your Inauguration Day dessert, kheer, or rice pudding, is a great way to do so.

The popular Indian dish is a creamy, sweet blend of milk, sugar, nuts, rice and cardamom. If you have leftovers, kheer also works well as a breakfast dish.

For the Instant Pot Indian Rice Pudding recipe, click here.

Ice Cream

It’s no secret that Joe Biden likes ice cream. "I don't drink. I don't smoke. But I eat a lot of ice cream," Biden said in 2016. Indeed, his campaign spent $10k on ice cream in April (though it turns out it wasn’t all for him; much of that was spent to treat donors to his favorite indulgance).

So to honor Biden’s love of ice cream and Harris’ Indian heritage, why not whip up a batch of this creamy ginger ice cream?

Or, if you’re not up for making your own ice cream, just pick up a tub of Jeni’s Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks ice cream, which is purportedly Joe’s favorite - in one tweet he joked that it’s a performance enhancer. Of course, you could skip all this trouble and make another favorite of Joe's: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

For the Ginger Ice Cream recipe, click here.

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