You know regality is in the air when the 14th ‘Rao Saheb’ of Deolia Kalan, Laxman Singh along with his wife Gajendra Kumari decide to sit with you at a magnificent dining concourse to serve their royal cuisine.
At the four-day “Dine With Royalty” festival that began at the Embassy of Belgium on Thursday evening, one can get an excellent feel altogether while dining with the erstwhile royal families of Aaron and Myana, Amarkot, Awadh, Badnore, Balasinor, Bhainsrorgarh, Bedla, Bhopal, Bolangir, Deolia Kalan, Jhabua, Jhalamand, Jodhpur, Kangra, Kanota, Kishangarh, Kotwara, Limbdi, Loharu Mahmudabad, Nimaj Patiala, Raghogarh, Rampur, Sandur, and Santrampur.
The preview on Thursay got together the families of Deolia Kalan, Kishangarh and Bhopal families to talk about their cuisines and offer upmarket pre-drinks alongside sufi music followed by a lovely food extravaganza.
I got the chance to dine with the Deolia Kalan family of Ajmer in Rajasthan.
Laxman singh and Gajendra Kumari sat opposite each other on a grand dining table that accommodated more than 50 people.
With swanky golden cutlery set in a certain manner, high toned decoration and nothing over the top, the table had the three courses come on it one by one.
They say, for the royal Rajputs, the meal is never complete without meat. Hence, I had to go for the non-vegetarian course, which began with maans achaari bootain and murgh soole.
Not even a bit of the starters or Nukkal, as the menu described it, could disappoint but the smooth grilled pieces of murgh soole was the clear winner for me.
Not surprisingly, Gajendra Kumari’s sole focus was on the reaction of the guests to the cuisine. “You liked it,” she asked with every serving.
There is certainly a difference between class and snobbery and her appealing etiquette demonstrated this well.
Does the family dine in the similar manner at home’
“The menu keeps changing. It is usually just two dishes with rotis and rice,” she said.
“It gets grand when kids (sons and daughters-in-law) are in Deolia. They have different demands everyday. Sometimes, I cook for them but when I do, I don’t get to sit with them and eat,” she added.
The menu described the main course as “jeeman”.
How I wished my stomach was bigger when came the typical Rajasthani ‘thal’ comprising delectable dishes — moong mod dal, matki maans, kaju keema, amla murgh. papad murgh, chonkha chawal, and pudina batiya.
I am still drooling over the papad murgh — one of the best chicken gravies, I have eaten so far.
The gentleman sitting next to me so loved the keema and matki maans that he asked for a second serving of the wholesome dishes.
Amla murgh was an intriguing dry fruit-rich white gravy. Gajendra Kumari described it as her favourite from the platter.
All went well but didn’t end all that well.
A majority of people, highly impressed by the starters and the main course, weren’t fully satisfied with the dessert.
The confectionery course or meetho consisted of besan and watermelon seed dessert nukti laddoo and broken wheat dessert lapsi.
The laddoo tasted fine, not great and the lapsi was a just too sweet.
Perhaps this much is pardonable, when royalties come and serve their cuisine outside of their palace and dine with you.
The festival will run at the embassy till October 29 and set you back by a cool Rs 12,500 but the food and the experience are certainly worth.
(Mudita Girotra was invited by the “Dine With Royalty” festival’s organisers. She can be contacted at email@example.com)
By Mudita Girota