Beyond Dal Batti Churma What Food To Eat In Rajasthan

Dal Bati Churma is almost synonymous with food in Rajasthan but my last trip to Rajasthan that spanned 2000 kms and 9 days was a gastronomic revelation. Rajasthani staple food I found to be quite simple and easy on the stomach and apt for the climate. We ate a lot of millets, gram flour, lentils, buttermilk and milk based products,meats and a few other vegetables that are indigenous to Rajasthan. Rajasthan being largely covered by the dessert has very few vegetable and green varieties and this reflects in the food.

 

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The winter crop of mustard in all its glory!

Breakfast in Rajasthan is mostly options like fafda, pyas kachori, methi pakodas which is fried gram flour balls with fenugreek leaves. In Jaisalmer we also saw Sindhi cuisine influences with dal pakwan and a few other interesting breakfast options. The dessert offered interesting snacks and breakfast options throughout the journey be it at a resort, a camp, a haveli or a street vendor. Biting into a methi pakoda and a fried chilly with chai on the old dessert morning was amazing.

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Yummy street food and snacks in Rajasthan
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Pyas Kachori which is quite famous in Rajasthan
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Dal Pakwan which is unique in Jaisalmer and shares its roots from across the border.

Rajasthan has quite a strong history with food, we glimpsed on this at a haveli inside the Jaisalmer fort. The kitchen and was right on top of the haveli, it looked like a constant in the palaces and havelis of Rajasthan where the kitchens were right on top of the 3-4 story buildings in some cases with the dining area adjoining it. This is a mere observation and I could be wrong.

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Dining area adjoining the kitchen in a haveli 

Note the large tiffin carriers kept in the corner which probably the men carried on long journey’s or to work. The seating was on the floor with the men and the elders being served first (which is not my jam )

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More on traditional dining

Some amazing restaurents we found on our journey across Rajasthan were Millets of Mewar in Udaipur which had a very relaxed atmosphere and had a very pleasing menu of authentic millet preparations from Mewar, Hari Ghar in Udaipur where we gorged on some amazing non vegetarian dishes, Good Hall restaurant in Barmer with mind blowing and truly yummy food. Since we are talking about amazing food one more place I can’t but mention is the home cooked meals we shared with our hosts in Siana Camps and Safari which found us in aristrocratic company in untouched rural Rajasthan.

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A vegetarian thali at Millets of Mewar (Udaipur)

Rajasthan also offers some very local delicacies such as pyas kachori, mirchi bada which is a delightful combination of mirchi, spicy potato mash which is batter fried. Another local delicacy from Jaisalmer which is not widely known is a sweet called Gotuwa which is a ladoo preparation made by one sweet shop in the inner fort area of Jaisalmer.

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Gotuwa a sweet popular in Jaisalmer
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A spicy breakfast of mirchi bada in Jodhpur

Food ofcourse is amazing in Rajasthan but the ambience, the hospitality and the settings from as different as jungle lodges to havelis, backpackers getaways to palaces to roadside pitstops, dessert camps to sparkling lakes makes one appreciate the nuances of the local cuisine and adds the magic.

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Breakfast at Kankarwa Haveli next to the Lake Palace Udaipur
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The World Descends On Goa For The New Year

The world literally descends on Goa for the New Year celebrations and I know this after spending one New Year eve at Calangute beach being the only pair of brown customers in a restaurant near the beach! Goa ofcourse is different for different people, for the party goers one has the Tito’s and the Tito wannabes and for people like me Goa has its villages, farms, forests and untouristed beaches (yes untouristed is not a word, but it should be)!

Burning the old man is a custom very unique to Goa, usually kids take up the task of collecting money for the old man before burning him on New Year eve at the beach. This enterprising bunch of kids we met everyday during our stay there as they were raising money. We stayed at Calangute beach for the New Year mainly because staying somewhere else and then trying to get to Calangute beach would have been madness because the world does descend on Goa for the New Year!

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Calangute Beach

The beach is ofcourse the perfect place to bum out at a shack. The beaches in Goa I must say have improved in terms of patrolling and keeping clean with systems in place keeping up with the increased tourism. The only major thing that bummed me out was the male gaze that kept following women on the beach. I almost didn’t get into the water because of the men who pretended to be taking pics of the beach or the sea and instead were filming women in their bathing wear. This is one place where India and the world so strongly collide.

That said I have seen the other side of Goa as well when my sarong slipped away from my bathing suit and we stepped into a shop near by to buy shorts for me. As he did not have a card machine the shop keeper took my husband on his scooter to the ATM which was a little far away as I waited in his shop unaccompanied and in my new shorts.

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Languages Being Adopted To Support Tourism

I have been to Goa many times before and can see the changes that have come along. The menu cards, boards and other commercial establishments seemed to have boards written in Russian. I am happy for the tourism this brings in but somewhere along the line some intrinsic charm of a place gets changed. I also believe that no place can remain the same for eons together, change will happen and Goa has changed in this manner.

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People Are The Charm Of Goa

Goa must be different things to different people but the warm, welcoming nature of the people of Goa remains constant. The conversations with the people weather it is a group of fishermen who are trying to convince us to go fishing with them or the lady at a bakery selling bibingka. This last trip, I bought bibingka from a local bakery and ended up finishing the whole pie and more.

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Forests In Goa

Goa has forests and protected wildlife sanctuaries where they are developing eco tourism but it is not as well known in the tourist circles. This is the best part of Goa that I love which is the countryside and the wilderness mainly because my intrinsic nature is that of a dreamer. It is here that I have found gems that I treasure like the Christmas tree made out of wine bottles and the first sun rays of the New Year on a sleepy village road.

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The First Sunrise

Happy New Year folks!

10 Unique Breakfast Dishes To Love Across India

Breakfast is an important meal in India it is more of an emotional need. The variety of breakfast items one can find in India, I am yet to see in another country. Every state that I have been to and I have been to around 20 states and 3 Union territories has bowled me over with the variety of food and the gastronomic experience that India provides. This is by no means an exhaustive list but features 10 unique breakfast dishes that should definitely make way into your stomach.

Poha

Poha is a very humble dish and simple to make but only the best cooks can make poha the gastronomic wonder that it is. Poha is prepared with flattened rice, lemon, onion and green chilies. This humble dish is prepared and favored across the states of Maharashtra in the form of Kanda poha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujrat. Most states in India have a form of flattened rice recipe but poha with a topping of namkeen is my favorite.

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Credit – By Raxio00 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Vada Pav

Oh man this one I think has ode’s written for it. The vada pav what students, workers and well anyone who can afford a 10 Rs can have for breakfast with tea. Take a bite, nip a green chilli and take a sip with tea. Vada pav ofcourse is very Maharashtrian and possibly embodies the spirit of Maharashtra humble but fiery.

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Paratha With Butter

Paratha with butter is most suited for the tough terrain and the cold in North India, a popular Punjabi breakfast item. A paratha is quite versatile as one can stuff it with various stuffings like potato, onion, cheese or plain with different types of flour. A big (no make that ginormous) dollop of butter and you are set for the day! I have heard ‘rumors’ that this breakfast is then followed down with a lassi, that makes for some serious appetite.

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Puttu With Kadala

Puttu kadala is from Kerala and though many others who are not from the state underestimate the taste of this healthy steamed and down to earth recipe. There are Keralites who will miss it and create makeshift puttu vessels just so that they can make their favorite breakfast or add it to the zoo advertisement that they have been commissioned to create.

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Credits – By Simile Krishnakumar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kothu Paratha

Kothu Paratha is from Tamil Nadu and quite popular in Sri Lanka as well. Kothu paratha takes care of left over paratha from the previous night and gives it a make over so terrific that it catapults itself in the breakfast runway as a star.

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Kothu Parotha

Pongal

Pongal happens to be my staple go to at any  Sarvana Bhavan or Adayar Ananda Bhavan this Tamil beauty is rich as well as simple. An Italian friend once likened it to risotto. Pongal comes in sweet and savory and I recommend both depending on your mood. The dish is a mainstay in the Tamil New Year festivities of pongal. They named their New Year after this dish, need I say more?

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Momos with Thukpa

Momos and thukpas have quickly become mainstream in the rest of India which has a migrant North eastern population. Momos for breakfast is quite filling and soul satisfying I must say. North east has many more such unknown gems that should have their rightful place.

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Fafada and Jalebi

This is a very weird combination for breakfast for a south Indian but try it with an open mind. It is definitely worth it but then again I am sucker for Gujrati food. This combination is popular on street corners in Gujrat along with dhoklas.

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Credits – By Sarika 1410 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kachori with Aloo

Very popular in U.P and a few other northern states. Kachori as a breakfast dish has not yet reached mainstream but it is quite an interesting option any way.

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Mude Idli

Screw pine leaves or kedige is used as mould for the idli batter to give it a distinct taste. Mude idli is an authentic Kanadiga breakfast which is not very common today. Kamat Lokaruchi on Mysore road near Bangalore is where you can sample this rustic beauty.

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Mudde Idli an authentic offering

Pictures Credits – Razor Rasu, Traveling Noodles and Wikicommons where credited.

Weekend Camping Near Bangalore – A Do Nothing Farm Vacation

I recently brushed off the last of the dust from our weekend camping trip to a farm in Mandya district near Bangalore. Hence I am writing this post when the euphoria is still fresh. This was a trip I had my eye on for quite a while because it had been a while since I had taken a nap under a mango tree or seen the naked stars in the sky!

A common question I hear from friends when asking about a trip is, ‘So, what is there to do?’ The truth is that if you are outdoors one does not need to manufacture anything to do or make packed itineraries because life happens. Here is what we did at the farm for not one but two days ( we ended up extending our stay). We drove into the farm after night had fallen (which is not advised as one needs to acclimatize at a camp) and got over fear of the dark as the people were genuine and friendly. We drank fresh cows milk right after it was milked and realized the difference first hand.

Sat around the bonfire and looked at the wilderness and talked to each other instead of at each other. Ate delicious barbecue right off the bon fire followed by a healthy and rustic dinner. Slept in a tent with a very excited toddler. Woke up the next morning to ducks quacking, chickens walking around and the ‘usual’ sights and sounds of rural farm life. Found duck eggs near the pond, made friends with a kitten and a puppy.

Met a chicken who had adopted ducklings as her own and waited for them at the bank as they took a swim in the pond. Rubbed a kitten’s belly who had taken it upon himself to protect the farm. Heard an elephant’s trumpet from the forest. Tasted some smashing dishes in which the masalas were ground by the village women nearby. Fed the hungry ducks their breakfast, read a book on a hammock and promptly went off to sleep. Decided to stay another day.

Woke up at the crack of dawn and watched the sun rise over the mountains, walked through lush farms in a small hamlet. Set off on a trek with a supportive toddler who climbed with us for 3 hours with short bursts of carrying him. Sipped endless glasses of lemon juice, heard farm stories and exchanged tales. What we did not do was bathe (though they have common toilets and running water but who has the time right) or get bored.

Photographs credited to Razor Rasu. This is a farm 90 kms from Bangalore near Kanchanahalli village, for more details head to Linger – Do Nothing Vacations.