Food that transports you to Rajasthan
Thinking about Rajasthani cuisine takes me back to the time when I was still living in Ajmer, Rajasthan. Men going out to work, while the women of the locality got together to chat and make papads and badi in the hot weather, and the vestige of neighbours coming to your doorstep to share what they have cooked for the day. Owing to their spices, the aroma of a Rajasthani meal being cooked quickly travels from the kitchen to other people's house and you will just know that someone is making Laal Maans (red meat). The 'laal' in the laal maans is not an exaggeration, it actually looks red due to the abundant spices that people in Rajasthan use; it is hot, spicy, a little chatpata yet tender and juicy.
What made me reminisce my time in Rajasthan was Chef Prem K Pogakula's (Executive Chef of The Imperial, New Delhi) royal Rajasthani cuisines. His Laal maans (spicy lamb curry) is just as one would expect of Rajasthani food – spicy, tender meat which just melts in your mouth. But someone who has had actual home-cooked Rajasthani food might feel that the dishes made by the Chef are a bit on the milder side because, as said by the Chef, "not all the guests are used to hot, spicy food and hence, we have toned down the hotness and made a few twists to the authentic Rajasthani cuisines."
Apart from the laal maans, the Chef's Mirchi Vada (crispy fried green peppers, stuffed with aloo masala and served with tangy green chutney) was truly royal in its taste. Mirchi Vada and green dhaniya (coriander) chutney is a street snack in Rajasthan which tastes much better when coupled with a hot, sweet tea; you could go on and on eating the vada without realising that you are having green peppers. Thanks to the Chef, a similar feeling came when I had the Mirchi Vada at Daniell's Tavern, The Imperial.
Their Dhaurasi Taffri (fresh prawns marinated with hung curd, garlic and chilli), Khad murgh (traditional baked chicken), Makki ki Seekh (minced corn infused with some special spices) and Maas ke sule (tender lamb picatta marinated with home ground spices and cooked over iron griddle) were good but lacked the authenticity of Rajasthan – maybe because of how common these cuisines are now. But every foodie's favourite Rajasthani dish – Dal Baati Churma – was simply scrumptious. The Dal was well-cooked and a little tangy, the Baati were in perfect shape and the Churma was finely roasted; when had together, these three just gave a burst of tangy, sweet and little sour flavours in my mouth.
The Chefs at Daniell's Tavern serve a grande Rajasthani Thali with Laal Maans, rice, Govind Gatte, Khatto Murgh, Tawa Macchi, Paneer ka Sweta, Aloo Mangodi ki Subji, Gatte Pulao, Dal Baati Churma, and Jowar and Bajre ki Roti to make a delectable Rajasthani meal. One might be tempted to go for the sweets, but tread carefully, as, after the meal, the sweets might just get too sweet for your palate.