We were in Jaipur over the Diwali holidays this year. Mostly, to run away from Gurgaon’s polluted Diwali air. And also, to make the best use of the extended weekend, exploring the traditional restaurants, eateries of Jaipur. For, we had been there earlier, and had done the usual tours of forts and mandirs. This time round, we promised ourselves, we’d eat, rest, eat again, rest again.
Breakfast at Jal Mahal (ITC Rajputana): ITC Rajputana’s Jal Mahal restaurant is famous for their elaborate breakfast spread. Not without reason, then, the crowded restaurant 8.30 am onwards. Thankfully, we were staying at hotel, and would go down for breakfast by 7.30 to beat the crowd and the resulting noise. With ample options in both the Indian and non-Indian sections, you are bound to start your day on a good note here. The non-veg section doesn’t disappoint, what with good options of Pork Sausages, Bacon, Fish Mousse….I normally rate a breakfast table by the Cheese platter they keep. IT Rajputana doesn’t disaapoint, but don’t expect international Goudas and Fetas here. And then, the next yardstick is how good/bad they make masala tea. When I spoke about my fussiness to the staff, the good man requested me to wait as he would ask the kitchen to make me the special Rajasthani Chai, and came back triumphantly with a steaming cuppa that made my day!
Breakfast at Rawat Mishtan Bhandar: We urge you to go traditional for breakfast when in Jaipur, even if it is for one day. And head to Rawat Mishtan Bhandar for their iconic Mirch Vadas, Pyaz Kachoris, Mawa Kachoris. Mornings at Rawat are crazy – with people piling on the counters as if the items are being distributed free. Such is the popularity! Almost everyone there is for Onion Pakoras or the Mirchi Vadas. The tray comes in from the kitchen inside and is over before you can even figure out what is happening. Had to wait for 2 rounds before I got a huge box full of these to be had and taken back home. And of course I missed the photo in the mad rush! Their restaurant is very popular too for other snacks, but the above two items are rockstars!
Lunch at Handi for their Jungle Maas: First the confession — if we go back to Jaipur ever again, it will be solely for the Jungle Maas they serve at Handi. ‘Out of the world’ will be a petty compliment for what they served in a terracotta bowl of lambchops floating in desi ghee and many red chillies. Completely spellbound, speechless, when we asked the staff waiting on us how they make it so good, he parted with only this bit of the secret – that when the Rajah’s entourage went hunting and caught their prey, the accompanying chef would depend only on the ghee and dry masalas they had carried for the tour. That’s how the name too originated – Jungle Maas! We ordered another plate full post our main course of Laal Maas and Rotis. The second plate was only to stuff our stomachs and souls of memories of their Jungle Maas to linger on for the rest of our lives…
Non-Veg Thali Lunch at the Jaipur Pavilion: Ok, the Laal Maas they make here is really good. We had an exclusive meal of Laal Maas etc for dinner the previous night, and settled for their famed non-veg thali the next afternoon. They do serve Laal Maas in the Thali too. And the Thali is ana wefully big one. Unless you have Hulk’s appetite, you will need to share it with someone definitely. Missed the Thali photo as we were startving by the time we his Jaipur Pavilion after a round of shopping at Javeri Bazar.
Snack at Laxmi Misthan Bhandar: In our 3-day stay at Jaipur, we went to Laxmi Misthan Bhandar twice! That points to the great adventure we had with their jalebis, ghewars and dahi bhallas. Teeming with people, just like Rawat, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar is sweets, sweets, sweets everywhere. But we’d recommend you stick to their traditional offerings like Paneer Ghewars, Jalebis. And don’t go with eating their Dahi Bhallas!
Dinner at 1135 AD at Amber Fort: The name says it all, doesn’t it?! No, the Amber Fort wasn’t opened in 1135 AD. The date points to the founding of the Rajput dynasty who ruled Rajasthan for centuries. The restaurant is at the rooftop of the fort above the big courtyard. Seeped in the feel of royalty even as you walk up from the ramparts where your car drops you, the lights of the fort, that vast expanse of the stars-filled sky transport you to the era gone by. Of course you are well dressed…it’d be so unfitting otherwise…The restaurant, you find, is pretty small with just about 9-10 tables in all across 3 rooms of which 2 are very small. The outside seating didn’t look all that great that evening, and so we opted in. Be careful to choose your table, for, the management likes to reserve the first 2 big tables only for foreign travelers. We had to speak with the manager to change our tables, and so did another Indian family who was given a table right inside where no staff waited on them. Everyone was busy at the table of the large table with foreigners right at the entrance!
Food here is so-so. The Jungle Maas we ordered didn’t fare well against the ones we had at Handi the previous afternoon. The Kebabs were good enough. But their Phirni was a huge disaster — wasn’t set at all, and kept swaying…! We liked the place for its ambience. Service is wanting. So is food quality. But its location is mind-boggling!