While planning my trip to Rajasthan, apart from all the forts, palaces, princely styles and grandeur, I was looking forward to some authentic taste. I have long heard about the Laal Maas, the traditional meat dish of the royals and the ghee dripping vegetarian delicacy of Dal Baati Churma and had a bite and more in some restaurants in other parts of India attempting to be authentic. 2 tastes, one fiery red with passion and valour, challenging our palate and the other triggering our urge to discover taste and sweetness in the simplest of food…………..both left me burping for more !!
The Laal Maas in Jaipur was spicy to say the least. A meat dish (goat, lamb) prepared with onion, garlic and lots and lots of red chilly paste that renders the colour, it is the staple food of the valiant warriors over centuries. The first gulp of Laal Maas with a piece of ghee soaked Naan burnt down my throat and I quickly cooled it off with a sip of water. I relished the next few bites allowing my system to adjust to the spice. As I dug into the chunks of meat, which were incredibly soft and tasty coupled with the fiery spice, I realised that the valiant warriors had a a soft side to them as well which reflected in the food but it was definitely not for the faint hearted. The cool breeze on the terrace garden restaurant just added to the princely taste I must add.
The best place to get an authentic taste of Laal Maas in Jaipur is Niros / Handi around M.I Road area.
One of the best Dal Baati Churma I tasted was in Jaisalmer. On a hot November afternoon, after exploring parts of the Jaisalmer Fort, I decided to hang around in Desert Boys Dhani. After a few minutes of indecision of what to have, I found my way under a tree and dug into their famed Dal Baati Churma. The Dal was a mix of different kinds of lentils which were mildly spiced, accompanied with the freshly roasted Baati and a full bowl of Churma(sweet). The Baati is a ball of flour dough that is roasted in a country oven. The baati is broken, soaked in ghee and had with the dal. The best baati’s are those that are well cooked inside and properly roasted inside. As I sat there, enjoying the views of the fort blazing under the afternoon sun, some unexpected guests showed up at my table. I offered a spoon of the uber sweet, dry churma generously mixed with dry fruits. Soon, I had other guests, some feathered and some soft tailed enjoying their afternoon meal with me. This local delicacy, is the food of the common man but gives a glimpse of the life in the desert where water is scarce but ghee (clarified butter) is ample and amid all the scarcity there is always sweetness.