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The ROMANCE of Rajasthan


RAJASTHAN. THE very name brings to one's mind images of people dressed in vibrant colours, haunting folk music, and the vast desert area. Think of the desert and one imagines a Rajasthani family biting into a dry bajre ki roti with a piece of onion and green chilli. But there's much more to Rajasthani cuisine and ITC Windsor Manor is offering all of it at its Rajasthani Food Fest, on till July 11.

As you walk into the restaurant, designed to resemble the Lalbagh Glasshouse, except for a few colourful pots placed in one corner there is nothing else that reminded you of Rajasthan. Even the live music band played Western tunes.

That was because the Rajasthani food fest is a part of the daily dinner buffet that offers Continental, Chinese, and Rajasthani. And this gives people an option to eat any kind of food they like, explained Y.B. Mathur, Regional and Senior Executive Chef. He then added that the restaurant decided to host the fest because Rajasthani cuisine hasn't been well tapped in a city like ours. There is plenty that it can offer in the form of spices, he added. "Cuisine is not about food and spices, it is about the culture, lifestyle, the heritage, and the way of life of that particular place. And we have tried to recreate the culture of Rajasthan with our romance with the spices and the cuisine."

Bangalore needs no excuse to venture in to new tastes. People here are willing to discover new cuisines and even allow it to grow on them. Coming to the food, the Rajasthani delicacies were placed in a row amidst the Continental and the Chinese items. It is a different menu everyday. Though the land of sands and deserts is famous for Jodhpuri gatta, dhal bati, choorma and ker saangri, that night's special included mirchi ke tapore (diced chillies in gravy), chukki ka matar (matar masala, cooked the traditional Rajasthani way), and vegetarain and non-vegetarian biriyani (the former is cooked with paneer and some dried vegetables) to name a few.



Master Chef Mahesh Tomar who has come down for the food festival

For starters, it was the traditional aloo chat masala (diced potatoes with a lot of spices, served cold). If you are used to eating the Bangalore chaat, you might take a while to appreciate the taste of this salad.

What followed was not only appealing to the eyes but was appetising too. First came hot bajre ki roti (millet) and makki ki roti (corn), which were served with butter and jaggery. The combination was just perfect. Then came the colourful pithon ki sabji (gram flour cake cooked in cashew and yoghurt gravy), a delicious subtle dhal made of moong, and paneer Jailsalmeri.

As Rajasthan faces extreme climatic conditions, the food is extremely spicy to help the body cope with the heat in the summer and the cold winters. But the food served at the fest was just right for a Banglorean palate. "That is because you won't be able to enjoy our meal if we add in our original level of spices, besides this we do not alter any other ingredient that goes into the delicacy," explained Maheh Tomar, Master Chef, who has been brought in from Rajasthan for the food fest.

The other flavour that lingered on for a while is that of the famous dhal bati. This is a delicacy where tiny balls made of wheat flour are stuffed with cooked vegetables and then baked. You have to break the balls into half, pour the moong dhal over them and bite into the crisp batis.

Finally, the desserts from the desert land were really a treat. The day's menu offered malai ghewar, kulfi with falooda, and churma (this is the famed fried dumplings of wheat and sugar, which are then crushed).

If you are game enough to pamper your tummy, then the ongoing Rajasthani food fest may simply be the place for you. For reservations, dial 22269898.

SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.

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