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Call of the desert

The `thali' at the Rajasthani food festival at Hotel Tulip Manohar provides an authentic taste of the cuisine of the State.


THALI TREAT: The meal is authentically Rajasthani. - Photo: P.V.Sivakumar

IT IS a colourful State - one with a vast expanse of desert. The culinary traditions of Rajasthan are not so well-known in other parts of the country. It is not popularised often for people to savour it. The Tulip Manohar is providing an opportunity for the local populace to taste authentic food in the Rajasthani Food Festival at its Copper Pot restaurant till August 18. "The fare is strictly vegetarian and even a separate kitchen is being used this time," says Arvind Shenoy, F & B Manager.

Since it is mostly desert region, the cuisine uses locally available ingredients, mostly different types of flours made of wheat, jowar, bajra and corn. So one has a variety of rotis made of these besides the staple bati (generally made of wheat and baked in a tandoor), which is traditionally eaten with dal (made of different pulses) and churma (a crumbly sweet mixture). Kher, sangri and boonda are other local items, which are made into curries. They are used fresh and even dried and used when not in season.

An attempt is made to create a Rajasthani ambience at the restaurant - with bandhini materials wrapped around the pillars - enhancing the colour play. A mehndiwali at the entrance is sure to tempt many women to decorate their hands. Settle down at a table and listen to ghoomar music being played while the thali arrives.

The thali with gleaming katoris and the wafting aroma will surely tickle your taste buds. The quantity is surely large. The sumptuous dishes are prepared by Bansi Maharaj who settled down in the city almost three decades ago. Three different menus are prepared for the duration of the festival. Those who are baffled with the dishes can start with the snacks before the dal (panchmili dal, pikki dal and toovar ki dal) bati churma. Two snacks are served. The choorma is made of bajra and jowar. The jowar/bajra/makki ki roti can be had with a variety of gravies like ghatte ki sabzi or govind ghatta (made of besan, a tradition speciality), kher sangri boonda (a delicacy) or kher kaju kismish, kadi pakoda, sarson ki saag or chana moong.

For the chutney lovers there is a fiery red (not so in terms of spice) lassan (garlic) chutney and a green mirchi ka kootha (pounded green chillies), which go well with the rotis and are often the common accompaniments in Rajasthan. There is a raita in place of curd.

"All the food is cooked in desi ghee and the masalas are brought from Rajasthan," says Bansi Maharaj. This surely imparts the authentic taste to a robust meal, which surely lingers on after one has left. For the gourmet it is surely an appetising meal.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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