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Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Best Thali I've had in my life....

A view of the Thali, served on solid silver: note the lotus-shape of the plate
The Dessert (silver again...)


The Sheesh Mahal , where the food is served

The place setting.....


Having lived in Bombay, Madras and Delhi (I'm using those old names of those cities quite deliberately), and having visited some 20 states of the country, I thought I knew all about Thalis: the "Rice-plates" of Bombay, the "Saapadu" of Tamil Nadu, the Andhra thalis, the Gujarati ones, the Marathi thalis, the Punjabi ones, the "Sino-Ludhianvi' Chinese platters, the 'Tandoori" ones from Nirulas...
Well, I had a revelation: I visited Amber fort along with my brother last month, and I noticed a neglected, deserted walkway, as I left the temple inside the fort. Barefoot, i climbed up the walkway, and viola!! I was in  
an opulent restaurant, modelled on a Rajasthani palace. Quite sceptical, we ordered the vegetarian thali ( the most expensive one of my life, at 1020 rupees a thali), and it turned out to be simply the best Thali I've ever had. Cooked in ghee, hot, with just the right combination of spices, I understood what real Rajasthani food must have tasted like, before vegetable soya oil and commercialism set in.
The Restaurant is called "1135 AD", and here's a review;
Most importantly, despite the clientèle of foreigners, they have not tried to 'spice down' the food, and make it bland, like they do in any Indian place in Delhi or Europe or America....
I guess the descendants of those who cooked for the Royals must be around still, with those skills being handed down from generation to generation. My brother, the reluctant Yankee,  called it the "best 20 dollars" he'd spent in his entire life...

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