The menu created for the fest packs in almost all the popular Rajasthani delicacies. Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.
A 20-DAY celebration of vegetarian Rajasthani cuisine "Rangilo Rajasthan at Ramana's," screamed the invite. So off we went to our destination on Cunningham Road.
Though located bang in the hub of the city, finding the place was like solving a riddle. One has to be attentive to catch the signboards that lead you to the Ramana's, tucked away inside the HM Geneva House.
Inspired by Maharshi
Rajasthani cuisine and at Ramana's? "We are inspired by the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and hence the name. And we believe that vegetarianism is the best way of life," explains Neeta Lohia who runs the place along with husband Sanjay Lohia.
Pretty interiors, done with some classy wrought iron furniture and the walls painted with warli paintings and decorated with bright bandhini duppatatas, immediately bring in the images of the vibrant land of palaces and desserts. Friendly "captains" lead you to your place and then one gets to the main part the food.
The menu, specially created for the fest, packs in almost all the popular Rajasthani delicacies. What was interesting was that none of the vegetarian food served had any green vegetables in them except for tomatoes and onions. "This is because it's a desert area and always short of fresh vegetables. So traditional Rajasthani cuisine uses daals and dried vegetables, which can be preserved through the year," explains Neeta.
Kurkure papads were served as starters. We also munched on dry cluster beans. We next opted for kanji bara (moong dal vada soaked in a tangy mustard-flavoured liquid). If you don't mind strong mustard flavour, have a go at this dish. It kind of grows on you. "The liquid is three days old and even the vada has to be soaked in it for three days to achieve this particular taste," says Neeta.
Then it was the turn of the Rajasthani classic, daal baati (wheat flour dumplings with pachmele ki daal). There was absolutely no difficulty downing the piping hot baatis with the delicious daal, cooked with five kinds of lentils.
This was followed by the ghatte ka pulao, which was eaten with the chatpata kala channa. As accompaniments, there was a heavenly garlic chutney, bhura (powdered sugar which goes with any dish), and pudina chutney. The lunch was topped off with hot gulab jamuns and moong dal halwa. As an end to a perfect meal, we were served typical Rajastahni-style saunf coated with the juice of betel leaves.
None of the dishes served at the fest are spicy or oily. And the fest also does not offer too many options on the rice platter, since Rajasthanis are mostly roti eaters. "This is my kind of food," sighs my companion, who is fond of subtle rather than overwhelmingly rich flavours.
The fest is on till January 2. Ramana's can be contacted on 22263200/22268500. The restaurant is open from 12 to 3.30 p.m. and between 7.30 and 10.30 p.m.
* * *
Service: Fast and good
Speciality: Rajasthani cuisine
Wallet factor: Reasonable
SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.
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