Chennai: The colours and liveliness of Rajasthan also extend to its food.
The rich heritage, sand dunes and cuisine of the State show how the natives live in union with Nature.
This came into sharp focus at the Rajasthan food festival that is on at Regenta Central Deccan, Royapettah.
Wheat and bajra (a millet) are their staple diet, which are used as per the season – wheat in summer, bajra in winter.
Steaming hot Bajre ka soup welcomes the foodies to the fest. The soup is made with just bajra and has a unique flavour.
The elaborate buffet is cooked by celebrity chef, Nname Ji Maharaj, from Bikaner and his team of five chefs. The menu served here is entirely vegetarian.
“Rajasthani food includes the use of bajra. This millet is one of the staple diets and is used to retain body heat in winter,” explains F&B manager, Aditya Prakash. “The arid nature of the region, extreme climatic conditions, scarcity of water and vegetation has led to unique cooking styles and food habits among Rajasthanis,” he adds.
Mirchi ka kutta (green chillies), Keri ka achar are excellent accompaniments to the entire meal. The roasted papad are a must try. It is laced with ghee and red chilli powder. Then comes the pithod roll, a popular and delicious snack. This is made from besan (gram flour) and rolled like a Swiss roll. It is cut into bite size pieces and is often served cold.
“The Rajasthanis have moulded their culinary styles in such a way that many of their dishes can be shelved for several days and served without heating,” says Aditya Prakash.
In the main course, Dal Baati Churma is a must try. The dal is poured on the baati (a hard bread made up of wheat flour cooked and greased with ghee). Coarsely ground wheat crushed and cooked with ghee and sugar, called churma, is put on top of the dal and baati and should be eaten together.
Then there is a long list of side dishes to choose from – lasooni moong dal, kachri gawar phali sabzi, dahi gatte ki sabzi, suha badi ki sabzi, panchkuta, mula ki bhaji and kala channa ki subzi. All these are eaten with shogran bajre ki roti or phulkas, which are made in a live counter.
“Rajasthani food is a menu served for kings. The idea of bringing chefs from Rajasthan is to give diners a peek into the authentic regional flavour. Most delicacies are prepared in live kitchen counters,” says executive chef, Sattybaan.”
For instance, the Ram khichdi is a festive dish. It is made with seasoned rice and is laced with nuts and ghee.
“Typically, there is no rice in Rajasthani menu; however, people do eat Bajre ki khichdi. This is the closest thing to rice,” he adds.
The desserts are a delight. Luni ka rasgulla, kaju katli, besan ki chakki, kharma ke laddu Rajasthani and bajre ki kheer are a must try. But one should not miss the ghevar. This is a disc-shaped sweet cake made with all-purpose flour and sugar syrup.
Served in bite size pieces, the sweet crumbles in the mouth and melts.The decor needs special mention. The walls were lined with typical Rajasthani photographs of people, dancers and the desert.
The Rajasthani food festival is open for lunch and dinner. It is priced at Rs 888 net per person. The festival is on till 10 September at Olives Multicuisine Restaurant at Regenta Central Deccan, situated at 36, Royapettah High Road, Royapettah. Phone: 9884951022 or 66773333.