Food Adventure #14 India

I have been writing a lot of long blog lately <>and also because a lot of the food tended to
be very similar I will break down the food adventures in India into a brief overview
followed by two stand out dinners we had (not including the meals we had in Hyderabad
which are covered in that post).

The food overall was very good, but at times touristy. I say this because we had gotten used to very spicy Indian food in Singapore at some of the local places and we really like spicy food (assuming it is spicy and not just hot).

We enjoyed eating with our hands and the dishes including the butter chicken in Delhi, the Petha in Agra, and the Naan and breads of Northern India. We also really enjoyed the end of meal breath freshener which consisted of sugar and fennel seeds and certain times added coconut and/or betelnut for additional flavor.

Breath Freshener (Delicious!)

Eating Butter Chicken with my hands

Carrie enjoying the Al Fresco dining and Beer (please note that YES Carrie was COLD in India!)

We had a number of meals during our stay there that in some ways blended into one another with similar types of food with not too many stand out winner. They were mostly good with some places too touristy, but overall a good range of foods. <> We drank a lot of Masala Chai (Indian flavored tea with spices and milk) and a fair bit of Kingfisher Beer during our week in India and while we really enjoyed both, I would say I favor the Masala Chai over the beer (as hard as that is to say) <>.

The two stand out dining experiences, again excluding the Hyderabad food, are described below.

The first really memorable experience was at a place called Choki Dhani in Jaipur. This was actually way more than a food adventure, but the food experience really capped off the night.

We arrived at Choki Dani because a number of my Indian coworkers had recommended it to me and they said I HAD to go there for dinner while I was in Jaipur…but they did not prepare us for the adventure that awaited us. Carrie and I joined the line to wait for our turn to pay and get into the place, realizing that this wasn’t your typical tourist place as almost everyone was staring at us (because we were the only non Indian people around or because we were Caucasian…or both). We read the sign that said 350 rupees for entrance fee and promptly paid that and then stood in line for the  royal dinner selection. The problem was that the nice host refused to let us get dinner at the royal dinner hall as we had already paid for dinner with our original ticket (at the time we did not know this and asked about food and received a blank stare and some finger pointing out the door…as not all signs were translated into English we learned that the 350 entrance fee included ‘local’ dinner and thus we did not qualify for the royal dinner). So we wandered past the entrance to an outside venue to find a place that can only be described as a traditional Indian village done by Disney. It had camel rides, ox cart rides, traditional hut homes, massages, puppet shows, costume shops, dancing stages, snack centers, traditional music live bands and even henna (which Charles got because the Indian lady said it would look good on him. She did not tell me that men don’t normally get henna though, so I guess the joke was literally on me…or at least on my palm, for about a week!).

A very nice host of Choki Dani showed us around the park mainly by pointing and hoping we understood Hindi (we barely know hello and thank you) but we did manage to find the hookah smoking area and, as mentioned before, to get henna.

So after about 45 minutes of living the Indian theme park dream we attempted to find some food and boy did we stumble on an adventure. See photos below for evidence.

plate and bowls made of leaves!

I was lucky enough to get the turban placed on my head by our friendly waiter and Carrie had henna and a her third eye mark going, that way we could really fit in and you could forget we were Caucasian. The food we had was absolutely amazing. It was very spicy, very fragrant and the only bad thing was we had too much of it. I really enjoyed the Jalebi as well – which is a dessert that tastes somewhat like sugar donut but you dip it in a yogurt sauce and the texture is hard and crispy with spiral shape. The menu per the website and my stomach can attest to it is as follows:

  • Sangri
  • Sag-gatta ro
  • Sag-dal pachhmelri
  • Sag-kadi besanri
  • sag-hariyalo(2)
  • Roti-gahuyari
  • Roti-makkari
  • Roti-bajarari
  • Dal-Bati

  • Chawal
  • Achar kair sangri ro
  • Chatni lasna ri
  • Chatni Dhana RI
  • Bura
  • Chat-Choulari
  • Malpuaa
  • Jalebi
  • Salad-Mix

  • Dal-Chawal
  • Makkhan-Dhani ro
  • Ghee-Dhaniro
  • Chhachh
  • Lassi
  • Papad
  • Rajasthani Meethai
  • Rajasthani Namkeen
  • Khichada Chhadiya motth

I think the only thing we did not try was the water and the buttermilk, both of which were beyond our safety zones.

It was quite and experience and one I would recommend to follow tourists. We got to eat wonderful food with our hands in the traditional way and even got a turban and very friendly service. The rest of Choki Dhani was interesting as well with joyous Hindi music and dancing as the fun shows but the highlight really was the food.

The second very memorable dining experience was almost the exact opposite of the local eat with your hands style food that we enjoy so much. The dining was at a very upscale restaurant in Udaipur at our hotel the lake palace and the restaurant was called Neel Kamal and it was a stunning experience. The staff was amazing with their wine suggestions, their attentive but not nosy service, and the decor was amazing as we really felt like we were royalty with stunning china and table clothes as well as a room fit for royalty with picturesque arches. It was an unforgettable meal to celebrate our anniversary. <>

We decided to get the set menu including way too many courses, but while we at least tried them all, we did not finish. I will let the pictures do the talking below. However, I also wanted to point out that the hotel did give us a congratulations anniversary cake much to our delighted surprise, but we could not find room in our tummies for more than a bite of it after our huge meal.

Our fine dining hall and table
Course #1: Tomato Soup
Course #2: Tandoori Chicken, Shrimp and Mushroom
Salad to go with our Main Course
Course #3 Main Course of Rice, Chicken, Mutton, Vegetables and some Paneer

Course #5: Dessert including Halwa and Jalebi my favorite

High End Breath Freshener

Fresh Breath – up close
Dessert in our room to celebrate (we couldn’t eat it)
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