Monday, December 9, 2013

Heritage experience in an orchard in Ranakpur, Rajasthan

I am just back from a Rajasthan work visit – we added some fun to it. This is the first of a 3 part blog series on Rajasthan.

Who visits Ranakpur? Tourists  - to see the 15th century Jain temples and/or Kumbalgarh Fort.

We dined at the WelcomHeritage Maharani Bagh Orchard Retreat, Ranakpur.

Loved the huge property oozing old world charm which is so well maintained. Built by the Maharani of Jodhpur in the late 19th century it appears to be a well run property comprising 16 cottages in an orchard setting. Entering we passed a huge board providing a guide to the numerous birds which can be seen on the property. One can stay in a heritage cottage in a garden. You can’t get closer to nature! While enjoying the legendary ITC service and food. Hope to stay here on my next visit to the region.

We had dinner in the good sized dining “room” with a thatched roof and open on four  sides. Under the starry night with a nip in the temperature it was very beautiful.

Beside the dining area was a traditional hand washing arrangement  –a  huge metal urn-like utensil fitted with a tap and an ornate bowl below full of leaves to catch the water. We used it after dinner to wash our hands. A modern and well equipped washroom was nearby.  

For dinner we ate Rajasthani cuisine: Jungli maas (mutton cooked in a thin but flavourful stew, no red masala), Panchkuta (see below) a delicious vegetable made from 5 vegetables (dried and sold) found in the Thar desert, Gatte ke subzi  (no subzi, made of besan), rotis and atta ka halwa. All of it was good but I just loved the unique Panchkuta.

Being a desert state, local markets are full of dried vegetables including Sangri ki phalli (pods of the sangria tree), kair (a wild berry growing on desert shrubs), and kumat (pods of the kumat tree – acacia family) all used to make the 5 vegetable Panchkuta.

I would love to eat Panchkuta again, can anyone share a tried and tested recipe?

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