December 29, 2011

More food from Rajasthan

This is part II. Obviously one post just wasn't enough to write everything I wanted to. Also Read more on my blog post on MatadorU

I was obsessed with food all the way to Rajasthan. I had drawn up lists of where we could eat. Local, royal, everything. Really. I still have them somewhere. I had even planned to go for a foodie walk in Jaipur! I think my fellow travellers might have certified me a little loopy. What girl is so interested in food? (And I wouldn’t blame them.) All I could think of, anywhere was the food. I wanted to stop the bus at times, when I realised that a small kachori wala was just around the corner. I didn’t really care much about the shopping, the drapes of sarees, dresses, the jewllery, and all those girly odds and ends.

In the many (many) travel magazines I read, everyone seemed to rave about the (what else?) sweets.  The orange, sugary jalebis, the irresistible Malpuas, the ladoos, the rasgullas...the list went on and on. My fascination (correction: obsession) began on day 1 at LMB. LMB is short for Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar but know widely as LMB – a sweet shop cum hotel in the busy, old-fashioned Johri Bazaar (the local market) in Jaipur. It is famous - and by famous I mean legendary - for Paneer ke Ghevar. Ghevar is made with flour, sugar and ghee and is deep-fried in, well, ghee. There is a technique to making good, tall, and crumbly ghevar and seeing contestants make them on MasterChef India season 1, I think it’s best left to the pros. Despite Ghevar being so rich on ingredients, well made ghevar is surprisingly light and mildly sweet. It is not greasy and you don’t feel like you just ate a truckload of calories (even if you really did).

Ghevar - stacked at LMB
Of course, I didn’t stop at ghevar.

Some more Ghevar


Next, came the Mishri Mawa – which is a sweet milk based desserts – It seemed to be made with Khoya (with the ‘mawa’ in the name) but it was pure white, and tasted nothing like a khoya barfee or paneer (which you might be inclined to conclude that it was made of, seeing the picture). This too was light, mildly sweet, and had that hint of richness to it.


On a savoury note, Rajasthani food is not short of snacks. The Pyaaz Kachori is a revelation, the onion stuffing in it isn’t pungent or overly cooked. The spices are just right, making you want to it more and the even the imli chutney served with it is not cloyingly sweet, just the right amount of tangy.

On to the Mirchi Pakoda – Jalpeno like peppers whose seeds have been removed, stuffed with spiced potato, dipped in a chickpea flour batter and fried. Sounds spicy? They are, so if you have to ever try one, just keep in mind the amount of ‘spicy’ that you can tolerate. That said, it is not completely unedible – if you like spicy, you are in for a treat.

If you are in Jodhpur, please brave the crowds in the local market to try the Makhani lassi and Mawa Kachori. The names maybe ordinary, but I can say this with confidence (yes, I know, now it may easy for me to say, but I did brave those crowds and streets to sample these delicacies. Remember, I had a list). Makhani lassi, is something of an indulgence. It is a fancy, lavish version of the cooling yogurt drink. With its base as thick yogurt, it’s churned with sugar, saffron and pistachios. Then a small glass is loaded with freshly churned butter (I did say it was lavish). I was almost too scared to taste it, fearing the butter to line every bite but then I need not have worried. The butter breaks up into pieces and you get bits and pieces in every sip - which burst into smooth deliciousness. The saffron and the pistachios complement the tang of the yogurt and the sweetness is never too overpowering. It's so thick that the spoon stands without support, so you are more likely to eat it rather than drink it. Not that anyone's complaining.

Makhani Lassi
I don't even know how to explain the decadence of Mawa Kachori after this. Kachori is a deep fried, donut sized, dumpling. Mawa Kachori is instead stuffed with sweet Mawa (Khoya) stuffing that is spiced with Badi Elaichi (Black Cardamom). Then before serving, its broken up and dipped (uhh.. soaked) in sugar syrup. But you know what, when you brave the markets, or the heat, or the crowd, or all of the above, Mawa Kachori is the perfect.

So when you go to Rajasthan, don't just see the sights. Take out some time to indulge your tastes (and keep those diets out of the picture for a while).

Mawa Kachori

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