So its not just in Delhi but people in Mumbai also know that I love to sample great food. The most recent restaurant invite came from Aamchi Mumbai, the city that has its own magical charm. I love Mumbai for Marine drive, for its Victorian elegance, for its night life, for Bollywood and for my friends who live there. Whenever I get a chance, I do not miss returning to the city. Recently, my blog ‘Pendown’ had an invite from VITS Luxury Hotel, Mumbai to attend their ‘Rajasthani Food’ Festival (6th to 15th May). Since I could not attend it personally, I asked one of my team members to take it up and bring the authentic flavors to my blog. I am very passionate about food. If you have been reading me, I bet you know that I do not talk much about cooking but I love eating. I enjoy indulging in new cuisines, flavors, spices, etc. It is my way of showing gratitude and respect to the great work that the chefs have been doing in every kitchen all across the world.
We all know that India is big country and its rich cultural and demographic diversity influences and changes the platter after every 100 kilometers. If you have not visited India yet, you must come to discover our amazing food culture. For those who have never been to Rajasthan, I must tell you that this land of Maharajas promises royal cuisine and great tastes. And remember, Rajasthani food speaks of lots of ghee.
So how many times have you visited the state which is one of the most popular destination of our country, which is famously known for palaces, forts, deserts, lakes and which is riot of traditions, culture and history? NOT often right!! Rajasthan is one such destination amongst the top states of India with had maximum foreign tourist visits in the year 2015. As everybody is not so fortunate to visit the state so often, some lesser mortals would like to relive the experience through a gastronomic journey. Why not? I am sure the first person who thought about food festivals wanted to do this to bridge the distance between different cultures and cuisines. I must applaud VITS for celebrating ‘Rajasthani Food festival’ in Mumbai. It is definitely one superb idea to bring the locals closer to the Rajasthani cuisine.
“PADHARO MAARO DES” was named aptly. It means ‘Please do come to our country, you are most welcome’. The aim of this culinary journey was to successfully explore the hidden treasures of Rajasthani cuisine. This initiative by VITS hotel from the renowned Kamat group of hotels was a welcome change from the usual Mumbai food.
At first, I would like to mention that reaching the venue is not as tiring or difficult as the hotel is well connected on the Andheri-Kurla road and it is well known too. The hotel had been previously famous for circus and was known as “circus circus” which has been aesthetically constructed into a new age hotel, 14 years back. The property boasts of 190 rooms with modern amenities which also has 11 banquets, the biggest of them accommodating max of 1000 persons and 300 hospitality staff for round the clock services. The hotel has a pool side restaurant ‘DIMSUM’ which offers oriental and Chinese cuisine. It is a crowd puller on weekends (fri sat sun) due to its midnight buffets for an all inclusive Rs399/. The 24X7 coffee shop or the lounge and bar with in-house DJ, both are popular with the locals.
The hotel has a well knit team of 34 chefs. The FNB manager with over 13 years of experience told us that the hotel endeavors to innovate and introduce a large variety of regional, Indian and continental cuisines to keep pace with the changing trends and taste of the ever bustling city. Rajasthani food festival was one such initiative from this group which had previously conducted RAMPURI festival, a doorway to UP Cuisine. Also continental and oriental festivals are being planned in near future.
Lets talk about the food now
The arrangement and Rajasthani theme was well designed with wall paintings of rajasthani warriors, kings and queens, etc. The staff had sportingly taken up the theme in their attires too. Females wore ghagra choli and the boys were dressed in traditional attires with colorful turbans. The poolside setting was beautiful and the intricate detailing of the theme set our mood for the evening.
While the welcome drink was served in the earthen pot, the starters were a mix of modern and traditional fare. Pizza dhokla was juicy and much lighter version of dhokla with toppings which stole away the show right at the beginning. The murgh banjara was one of my favorite and it was equally tantalizing. The mutton paya soup is a rare soup which I have seen on the menu in the recent times. Glad it was there. I relished it and it left my stomach craving for more. The tastes of health and diet conscious people were also taken care of. There was a plethora of salads on the house. The chicken pudina salad was as fresh as mint to the taste buds. The chef had experimented with Kache kele ka salad (Raw Banana Salad) and he was happy that it had found a nice response from the vegans.
The dishes in the main course had been interestingly named. First thing that I tasted was Jaipuri bhindi, it deserves a mention for its beautiful appearance and its juicy taste. Aloo lasaniya was tempting too. The dish which stole the heart of many was ‘Bharta Fish’ and I would remember it for a long time for its soft feel and tangy taste. The authentic Rajasthani maas macana was on the menu but it could have been way better if it was bone less. Chicken Jaisalmer was pretty close to what I had eaten in Rajasthan.
Rajasthani food is incomplete without Dal Baati Churma. Jodhpuri Gattey, Masala Baati (which was stuffed with potatoes) was yum. The Thali also consisted of lip smacking Choorma Ladoo and Mawa Mishri ka Ladoo. So, it was one authentic and complete Rajasthani meal. Trust me, at one of time I was spoiled for choices.
We were literally full but the desserts looked irresistible. The good old moong dal halwa brought back memories of school time. The dry fruit sheera with dollops of desi ghee was equally amazing.
Overall, I had a delightful evening and my taste buds were pampered to the core. After a long time, I had eaten Rajasthani cuisine and I was happy to discover that my love for it was absolutely safe and intact. Next time, when you get a chance, you must look forward to exploring food festivals at VITS. If you have been there, do drop in your comment to share your experience.
Venue: Poolside Restaurant, VITS Hotel, Andheri Kurla Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai – 400059.
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