Dining amidst the historic surroundings with the traditional, tangy flavours can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
While eating out today has become a part and parcel of our hectic lives, what refreshes us are the cuisine offered and places with great ambience. And, what can be better than jazzing up the mood with a period style dining!
Jodhpur, the sun city of Rajasthan, boasts a legacy of traditional flavours, welcoming ambience and centuries-old architecture that can leave you spell-bound. The Pillars and Risala restaurants at the Umaid Palace of Taj hotel resorts and palaces are an experience in themselves. What makes the place even more special is the novel chef cuisine for each day.
Marwari spice and royal décor
Khamma ghani, which means ‘you are welcome here', is the phrase that wins your heart the moment you step into Risala. I decided to start with a mocktail, Jodhpur Lancers, a blend of Vodka and mint with a berry. While I was enjoying the sip of this soothing combo, Sous Chef Dhruba narrated the details of the Marwari menu which is Risala's speciality. “Royal Rajasthani flavour is all about perfect marinating, whether it's red meat, chicken or simple kababs. Risala has been named after the Risala Lancer of 1918 when hunting was the common trend, so you will find a lot of non-vegetarian dishes in the royal menu. Our Murgh Soola (boneless spicy chicken) and Khud Panda (baby leg of lamb marinated overnight) are a must-try. Many of our specialities are marinated under sand in sunlight as that gives it a great taste.” Being a veggie, when I asked for some traditional vegetarian dishes, Dhruba surprised me with Kair-Sangari, mixed vegetable dalia and methi gatta curry. Served along was a triplet of chapatti in makka, jou and bajara. Each dish had impressive Marwar flavours with spices ranging from mild to chilly. “I believe in cooking what the visitor demands and since most of our diners are Europeans, I keep it to the milder side,” concluded the Sous Chef.
A place with such magnificence works as an add-on to those spices. The décor has its own charisma with the portraits of the lancer martyrs and his Highness Umaid Singh all around. The fresh flowers, chandeliers and the classic two-winged fans high above bring the royal aura right to your table. The silver cutlery wonderfully gels with the traditional cuisine. Men wearing turbans and designer uniform (the staff uniform was designed by Raghavendra Rathore, the obvious choice) are around to help you decide. Although, they have a typical Marwari accent, they do know their jobs well. Risala is one of its kind and that really makes it the only high end Rajasthani cuisine restaurant in the state.
Dining at any palace is undoubtedly a glorious indulgence. But Pillars, which is located in the western rear verandah of the palace, attracts you not for the food but mainly for the scenic beauty. This global cuisine, open-air restaurant is an all-day dining area where you can simply sit for hours watching the beautiful sunset, the strutting peacocks (sometimes they can come quite near your table). “The place is generally packed during the evenings as tourists enjoy the serene nature after their day city tour,” says Mamta Singh, Director, Sales. “The glorious Mehrangarh fort of 15th century works as a historical backdrop, the lush green lawns and the Edwardian architecture, all makes for a spectacular experience. Whether you like Mexican or Continental cuisine, everything other than traditional is served here. I decided to bid adieu to this luxury with a roasted papad which is traditionally served as the last course.
On an average, the lunch or the dinner for a couple at Risala costs between Rs. 5,000/- to 8,000/- which doesn't include drinks. The Pillars too is on the same lines.