BENGALURU: On a weekday evening, we make our way to ITC Gardenia to get a taste of some authentic Rajasthani cuisine that has been specially-curated by the chef Akshraj Jodha, executive chef at ITC Windsor, who is the 14th descendant of Rao Akheraj of Akheraj, that lies between Marwar and Mewar in Rajasthan.
As tables are just about getting filled up, my dining companion and I get ready to take on the 10-course meal. First up, we try the Aloo Papad and Murgh Telada, which come with two types of chutney – Lasoon and Kachri. A bite into the Aloo Papad, and the spicy notes hit the right spot. And that’s soon balanced by the Murgh Teleda, a kebab that’s cooked to perfection. As we’re served the dishes, we’re told that papad is usually eaten at regular intervals since it acts like blotting paper to absorb the ghee-laden dishes.
As we gasp at the bati, deep-fried in ghee, we’re told that lack of water in the desert region is why Rajasthani food is heavy on ghee. We go ahead and try the Dal Bati Churma, despite being warned that the delicacy might be a meal in itself. Telling ourselves that we would only try a small portion, we end polishing off the plate.
We head to the buffet counter, which is complete with Paneer Makka Kheech, Gawarphali, Akha Khargos, Safed Maans, Dal, Dhuli Moong Saabat, rice, Achari Pulao, roti and Beetroot Parantha. We try the Achari Pulao, which is flavoured with a host of spices. The Safed Maans, a mildly-spiced cashew curry is our favourite. The fish is cooked to perfection, and rightly spiced. The add-on green chutney enhances the flavour. Despite my dining companion being open to experimenting with dishes, and a tempting aroma, he was wary to try Akha Khargosh – a rabbit delicacy that was eaten by royals when they went hunting.
Stuffed beyond measure, we still make our way to the dessert counter. Spoilt for choice with an array of traditional desserts, in addition to cakes and pastries, we decide to try desserts from the desert. We stack our plates with Guri Sooji Halwa, Mawa Kachori. The Mawa Kachori, hard on the outside with a sweetened filling of khoa and black cardamom is an icing on the cake. We ask for a second serving, even as we try the Guri Sooji Halwa, which is just right in its sweetness.
Happy and heavy, we leave the restaurant after a hearty meal, with the promise of going back, especially for the Mawa Kachori. Cost for two: Rs 1,750 + tax (part of the dinner buffet at the Cubbon Pavillion, ITC Gardenia, till December 9)