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Flavour of the desert

At Jaishree Bikana Sweets on Greams Road, one can savour the unique taste of Rajasthani cuisine.

ABOUT FIVE years ago, in Chennai, the word `thali meals' brought to mind Woodlands and Dasaprakash or may be Saravana Bhavan or perhaps Sangeethas. Today, if a thali lunch is mentioned, the question asked is what kind, Gujarati, Punjabi, Rajasthani or South Indian?

The erstwhile Just Around the Corner and Dosa Diner on Greams Road have become Jaishree Bikana Sweets (ph: 8290053/0337). The front shop has sweets, savouries and chaat items, while the adjacent one serves thalis.

As chaat is served in the restaurant too, we made a beeline for it. The menu is the shortest one could have seen.

There are just two items — gharelu thali (Rs.75) and Rajputana thali (Rs.120). Easy decisions, eh?

We started our meal with papdi chaat (Rs.15) and raj kachodi (Rs.20). The first one was really tasty and worth trying.

The kachodi chosen by default, as both khandvi and dhoklas were over, failed to impress. The thandai (Rs.25), the welcome drink, was pleasant. It was the `honeyed' touch that made it so.

The gharelu thali offers three vegetables, dal/kadi, curds, a sweet and rotis and rice. A very satisfactory deal considering the fact that it is unlimited.

The dal and one of the gravies offered, gatta subzi with besan dumplings, were yummy.

That the Rajputana thali is the sumptuous one is obvious. What we were unprepared for was the quantity of the starters, three varieties of mixtures it comes with and the different kinds of rotis. You finish the meal with three sweets.

How come in Chennai, we are yet to see the Rajput strain of the Rajasthani cuisine? The warrior class is noted for its penchant for meat.

What we have now is the Marwari cuisine. Let's hope that Rajput food too hits our shores soon.

MARIEN MATHEW

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