The mention of Rajasthan conjures up images of not only desert landscapes but also renowned clans like Rajputs, Marwaris, Mewaris and Shekhawats. These two factors have immensely contributed to the culinary legacy emerging from the state in terms of ingredients used, method of preparation and flavour profile.
The arid climate lends the cuisine with a heavy use of dairy products like milk, yoghurt and ghee as substitutes for water in this arid region. Also, the food is spicy to match up to the climate (as surprising as it sounds) and the heat in the food is balanced off with sweet ingredients. So, Rajasthani food is one that is high on taste playing in the range of spicy, tangy and not blatantly sweet flavour profiles.
The cuisine of Rajasthan is also the coming together of four unique cooking styles, that originating from Marwari, Shekhawati, Mewari & Rajput cuisines. The former two styles contribute to the vegetarian aspect of the cuisine while latter two comprise a lot of meats especially use of fresh water fish in Mewar and different types game meats popular amongst the Rajput community.
Chef Surender Mohan has executed a fabulous menu to bring the royal flavours of Rajasthan through the Rajasthani Food Festival taking place at the restaurant till July 31.
So here is a look at some of the delicacies of Rajasthani cuisine I enjoyed from the especially curated menu for this festival :
I went it predominantly with non-vegetarian offerings and sampled all three non-vegetarian appetizers that are part of the festival menu. I commenced the meal with the Mewari style MACCHI KE SOOLEY appetizer. This starter entailed a fish fillet that was slow-cooked in a spicy, yoghurt-based masala redolent of coriander to arrive at a flavourful dish. Next, I indulged in MURGH KE PARCHE or a perfectly grilled breast of chicken that had been rendered moist and delectable with a marination of cream, yoghurt, red chilli & other spice powders. KEEME KI POTLI was the third starter and a crispy, fried dumpling with a filling of lamb mince cooked with whole garam masala.
The only vegetarian started I went in for was the ARBI AKHROT KI TIKKI or a shallow fried coarse textured, nutty flavoured pattice made of colocasia root & walnuts, imbued with flavours of Rajasthani garam masala.
This course was initiated with Marwari delicacy of ghee-rich DAL BAATI CHURMA. This is one of the signature dishes of Rajasthani cuisine and was an exceptional tasting dish served up by the restaurant and ended up being my favorite on the menu. It comprised of a combination of 'khasta' ghee soaked baati (boiled, baked & fried wheat flour dumpling) that was crushed and doused with dal (a mix of lentils) given a tadka of red chillies. A topping of sweetened and dry fruit adorned churma (a coarsely ground baati) completed the dish. Flavourful & comforting are two words that come to my mind to best describe this dal-baaati-churma.
I could not fully recover from the onslaught of the sumptuous dal-baati-churma, so went easy on the remaining main course offerings in order to save some appetite for the dessert course. The most renowned curry dish of the Rajput cuisine of Rajasthan being LAAL MAANS was what I was looking forward too during this festival. The meat was slow cooked until it was coming off the bone. Although tasty in its own right, the flavours were slightly less piquant for the dish as compared to how it's versions are served in Rajasthan.
MURGH KA SOWETA was a mild, tangy dish that consisted of boneless chicken chunks cooked in cracked corn based gravy with tomato and capsicum. No Rajasthani meal is complete without the presence of a preparation made with gatta or chickpea flour dumplings. I came across an unusual preparation in the form of GOVIND GATTA CURRY where the gatta were not of miniature size we are used to seeing in gravies but were almost palm sized and were cooked in a yoghurt based curry.
Accompanying the gravy preparations were the famous GATTA PULAO. In this dish the regular, mini gattas came dotted in a toothsome dum-style cooked rice. The breads to go along with gravies included KHEEMA PARATHA, MAKAI NO ROTI, JODHPURI ROTI and popular BAJRA ROTI from the Shekhawat region.
Also, traditional condiments like ker sangri ka achaar, gunda or local berry pickle, papad aur bhindi ka achaar, pyaaz aur kairi ka chura and the famous Rajasthani garlic Chutney also were served.
I concluded my meal with three rich & distinct sweet delights. The dessert plate that arrived at the table was colourfully inviting with three different textured dishes. The first was a mildly sweet HARE MATAR KA HALWA where green peas were coarsely crushed and cooked with restrained amount of sugar and ghee. This was the first time I had tasted green peas in a sweet dish and certainly after devouring this dish, I look forward to eating & working with green peas in dessert recipes in the near future.
Next up was creamy, saffron enriched KESAR MALAI KULFI that was a treat to the palate. The subtly sweet dish was finished off with a garnish of sugar work to enhance its sweetness should anyone need it. The final sweet delight was the renowned MALPUA RABRI comprising a deep-fried, refined flour pancake drenched in saffron infused sugar syrup and served with a drizzle of condensed milk preparation, rabri.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the dishes and Chef Surender Mohan and his team of talented chefs have done a brilliant job of bringing flavours of Rajasthan to Mumbai.
So, do go ahead and indulge in the Rajasthani Food Festival at Jamavar before it wraps up on July 31.
Till then, HAPPY EATING...
- Regional Indian Food & Travel enthusiast