Oasis of food

WHOLESOME OFFERING Rangilo Rajasthan offers the region's signature recipes Photo: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.

WHOLESOME OFFERING Rangilo Rajasthan offers the region's signature recipes Photo: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.  

Feast on baatis, choorma and nutritious bajra rotis at Ramana's Rajasthani food fest

Ramana's is hosting their annual Rangilo Rajasthan food festival successfully for the third time in a row. The popular vegetarian restaurant inspired by Ramana Maharshi's philosophy has recently had a makeover and is looking more stark with simple wooden furniture, glass panels and muted mural work.They have brought in the colours of Rajasthan with a bit of bandhni fabric and a touch of mirror-work streamers. Their small but comprehensive menu offers what Rajasthan is best known for - its baatis and rotis, baras and sabjis.The desert land comes alive on the plate in what promises to be a riot of colours. Like their clothes and culture that are a vibrant contrast to their arid surroundings, their food too is hearty.

Dry daals dominate

Ramana's director Neeta Lohia, herself from the Jhunjhunu region of Rajasthan, explains how Rajasthani food draws heavily on the easy availability of dried daals, wheat flour and dried beans, avoiding scarce greens almost totally. The pachmele ki sabji, for example, she says, traditionally uses only radish, pumpkin and brinjals. Today, as they serve it to a more panned out urban palate, a bit of potato and peas are thrown in as well. This subji is really wholesome, consisting also of vegetables such as cluster beans, all cooked with mild spices.Eaten with bajre ki roti or daal ki poori, it makes a very filling main course. Bajra or millet flour rotis are really very heavy-duty and tasty as well! The daal ki puri is not a deep-fried puri but cooked much like a paratha. It's made of moong daal, soaked and mixed with wheat flour and spices. One can mix and match the festive fare with Ramana's regular menu.Start off choosing from their lassis, jal jeera, or kairi ka paani (a tangy raw mango drink). Pair this with the kanji bara or dahi bara. The dahi bara is a safer option because it's much like the popular dahi vada, only this one is made of moong dal and served with mint and tamarind chutney. The kanji bara is more an acquired taste, I presume. It's a moong dal vada made from immersing it for two days in mustard flavoured water, giving it a fermented effect. Rajasthani food is quite rich and heavy, so you'll end up eating smaller helpings! It's also a bit high on strong spices such as saunf that go into the sabjis and some rotis as well, so be prepared. But the classic Rajasthani must-have is the Daal baati with choorma and pachmele ki daal, made of five lentils. Baatis are traditional wheat flour dumplings that are roasted directly on a charcoal fire and then dipped in ghee (yes, sinful!). The choorma is even more sinful - sweetened wheat powder is cooked in ghee, seasoned with cardamom, saffron and nuts. You break up the baati, pour on the daal, garnish with the choorma, and if you want to relish it the Rajasthani way, pour on some more ghee. If you don't have a sweet tooth, leave out the choorma, though the taste will be incomplete then. If you have a tongue for mustard oil go for the dried-beans sangri ki sabji. If a yoghurty flavour appeals to you, then try the gatte ki sabji - rubbery gram flour dumplings cooked carefully in a rich yoghurt and spice masala. The rice variation of the gatta is the gatte ka pulao. You can also pick from a range of pulaos, biryanis and rice/dals from their regular menu.Dessert from the desert comes in the form of uber-sweet malpua (pancakes soaked in saffron-laced sugar syrup) and topped with rich creamy rabdi.The menu is a la carte and is available for lunch and dinner. The festival is on till January 29. Ramana's is at H.M. Geneva House, Cunningham Road. Phone: 22263200/22268500. They are closed on Mondays. Ambience: Simple and understated Service: Friendly Specialty: Baati-choorma-daal Wallet Factor: A meal for two comes at around Rs. 600BHUMIKA K.

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