Yesterday I wrote about how tourist friendly and warm Jaipur seems to be. Which is the way to go for any city which plans to be a global tourism hotspot. A lesson which the Asian countries of the Far East, for example, learnt a while back.
Well it turns out that Jaipur as a city, and its restaurants, are extremely camera friendly too. They don’t mind if you whip out your camera and start photographing the food. In fact they encourage you. Which is the way it should be if you are proud of what you dish out and want the world to come to you for it. Spread the good word. The sweetness.
I was at Rawat today. A shop at Sindhi Camp, Jaipur, recommended to me for it’s legendary kachoris ever since I landed here. With eating occasions fast running out I landed there for lunch today.
The place was packed. Obviously a local favourite. I was at the forty year old sweet shop. Part of a larger complex owned by the same owner which included restaurants and a hotel too. The sweet shop could have been forty year old but inside it was fairly modern, air-conditioned, sanitised barring perhaps the crumbs on the tables.
I called for the items that Rawat is famous for – piyaz or onion kachori, mirchi (chilli) vada and mawa kachori. As I took each delectable bite I had to keep reminding myself that I wanted the sample the stuff and that it was not humanly possible to eat everything. I didn’t do a very convincing job I must say so. And the waistline continues to expand here.
What struck me was the sophistication and delicateness of taste which were so ethereal in dishes which were actually deep fried. An option considered by some to be a base and unhealthy way of cooking. Would you associate culinary expertise with Fries?
The piyaz kachori was the winner for me. The mashed potato and onion filling which was inside the deep fried flour kachori was as regal as the awe inspiring forts surrounding the city of Jaipur are. the masalas used had the right balance of heat and tart … pungency that held you in its spell. A sophisticated taste experience that would linger in your plate for ages … engraved in a perfectly crisp flour shell. This was culinary wizardry.
The mirchi vada consisted of a green chilli covered in a vada pao filling like spicy mashed potato jacket covered in gram flour batter and deep fried. The textured of the crisp thin batter, soft mashed potatoes and crunch of the green chilli seemed like the effort of a cook who had been given the ultimatum by one of the Rajput Maharajas of yore.
Go to the kitchen. Create something for me. Enthral me. Or I will have your head for dinner.
You get the gist.
The mawa kachori was a sweet kachori stuffed with mawa and covered in sugar syrup. This was the one I chose to just nibble in my attempt to maintain sanity around my waist and heart. This didn’t have the hypnotising abilities of the piyaz kachori and the mirchi vade. Which didn’t stop the incredibly thin gentleman opposite me from devouring this sweet kachori. When asked, he told me that the secret to his thin waist was not having the mawa kachoris everyday.
I looked around and realised that i was not alone. Everyone around me was enjoying their break at Rawat. Right from folks who looked like blue collar workers to housewives decked in gold to young couples fresh out of college and Amit and Amit, two colleagues, one from Jaipur while the other had just moved in.
Rawat is a sweet shop of course. ‘Mishtan bahandar’ as they say it here.
They say that Rajasthan is all about bright colours and nowhere does this come alive like it does in the counters of Rawat. You have savouries or namkeens, local Jaipur sweets, ‘Bengali’ sweets…. a riot of colours almost like bougainvilleas in a desert.
They had the king of Jaipur sweets at Rawats as well. ‘Ghevar’ A honeycomb like gram flour sweet which is deep fried in a sugar syrup. And this ‘king’ of sweets could easily pass off as a crown with its looks.
I gingerly asked if one could buy a small portion to taste as I didn’t feel man enough for the whole crown. One of the many warm folks at the counter cut a piece for me and said ‘taste taste no need to buy to taste’.
Tasted exquisite. Crunchy and sweet. Poetic and colourful. Decadent as a king should be.
On seeing me photographing the little piece of ghevar, the man at at the counter got me a whole ghevar to photograph. Just as later other folks got out kachori and vada trays for me to photograph.
The folks at Rawat are proud of what they sell.