food from a Rajasthani kitchen

Jaipur is noisy, bustling and hot. It is the home of an obscene number of elephants and more palaces and forts than you could shake a King at. However, being on the edges of the Great Thar Desert, there’s barely a fruit or vegetable in sight, which makes it hard to love the food here.

We went to LMB, one of Jaipur’s oldest institutions, and ordered a traditional Rajasthani thali. Boldly touted by LMB to be a ‘unique unforgettable lifetime experience’, it was actually a bit of an uphill struggle. For starters, it wasn’t the most visually appealing meals I’ve ever seen as the majority of dishes varied in colour from yellow to brown; my least favourite colours when it comes to freshly cooked food.

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Here’s a whistle stop tour around my Rajasthani thali:

Daal – you may think daal is daal but it had many different faces. This daal was made with moong beans and ghee laden.

Baati – a tennis ball of wheat dumpling dipped in ghee and roasted on cow dung biscuits. Yum.

Churma – a coarsely ground wheat mixed with sugar and ghee – sweet to sickliness.

Dhana methi kishmish – I love the word kishmish, it’s hindi for ‘raisins’. This was a bittersweet mix of soaked fenugreek seeds and raisins.

Ker sangri – ker are dessert berries and sangri are stick like beans. This was my favourite but partly because the berries tasted like a love child between an olive and a caper berry.

I understand that geography has not been kind to Rajasthan, without water it’s hard to grow good things to eat. For all the fanfare around the palaces and Rajput Kings there is little energy for food here. The excitable street vendors of we met in Kolkata and Delhi were absent. We paid the bill, left the restaurant and went to go and find the elephants.

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