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A culinary trail Kalwara

19Apr

Chef Divya Kalwara brings a Rajwadi platter full of appetising flavours at the ongoing food fest-Kitchens of India-Royal Repasts at Hotel ITC Rajputana

A grand assembly of flavours awaits you at the food festival ‘Kitchens of India – Royal Repasts’ going on at ITC
Rajputana. And if you wish to savour every bit of what is served, you might have to go slow as there is a lot on the platter right from the welcome drink to the delectable starters and the true treasures of the Kalwara region. The festival, which continues till September 20, promises authentic taste of Rajasthan whose culinary secrets have been closely guarded by the Royal families. The Kalwara dishes have been meticulously prepared by Divya Kalwara, who hails from the royal lineage. “The idea behind the food festival is to bring forward some hidden and forgotten flavours of the Kalwara settlement. The 10-day food festival will have authentic Rajasthani cuisine,” shares Chef Divya.

The main attractions on the menu, including both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian, are Makkai Ki Subzi (Corn niblets simmered in milk and spices), Maans Soola (Escalopes of lamb marinated and grilled in charcoal), Makkai ki dhokle (Steamed maize discs) and Pitod Ka Saag (Gram flour dumpling simmered in yoghurt gravy). But, you haven’t tasted it all until you have tried Safed Murg (Cashew nut and poppy seeds flavoured chicken) and Bhuna Maans (Lamb marinated in yoghurt, onion, garlic and spices).

To top it all, there are a variety of mouthwatering traditional desserts like Malpua Rabri (Refined flour discs simmered in sugar syrup and served with sweetened reduced milk), Besan Ka Seera (Sweetened gram flour cooked with clarified butter and topped with nuts) and Fauladi (Sweetened refined flour tossed with desi ghee and nuts).
Chef Divya, while demonstrating two of her favourites recipes Makkai Ki Subzi and Maans Soola, shares the magic ingredients and secret behind the scrumptious dishes. “I make sure that I use milk instead of water to boil so as to make the dish tender and maintain the consistency in the taste. And I seldom cook without Kachri powder, which adds a tangy taste, and yoghurt other than the basic spices,” said Divya. After the live demonstration, Divya relished these dishes at the Chef’s table paired with Nine Hills Shiraz (Red wine) along with her friends and relatives.
On asking about the culinary voyage of the 10-day festival, Divya said, “There will be three vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes each every day that I have inherited from my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. There are two dishes that are exclusive to my innovation, including Chakki Ki Tikki (Spiced gluten cutlets grilled on a griddle) and Paan Guddi (Spiced gram flour, wrapped with pastry, steamed and tossed in gravy).”

Speaking about the festival, Sunil Gupta, general manager, ITC said, “It is an effort to discover something
beyond the regular traditional dishes, like Divya presented Rann (Whole leg of lamb marinated with choicest of spices) and Chakki Ki Saag. These are generally not very common.”
Divya, who is taking forward the cuisine of the Kalwara region, plans to write a book soon. “I will soon be coming out with my book on exclusive recipes that have been passed down from generations, probably by next year,” she shared as she intends to keep alive the originality and heritage of these delicacies.   If you are a foodie and want to delight your taste buds with authentic Rajasthani cuisine, Royal Repasts is the perfect getaway.

Jaipurfect!

19Apr

They once flocked to Northern India for the Taj Mahal, now visitors come for the authentic recipes, says Joanna Sugden

 

With two gas rings, a concrete worktop and no sink, the small lilac kitchen in Udaipur doesn’t look like the most popular attraction in India’s answer to Venice. But the backpackers and holidaymakers beating a path to its door tell a different story.

They are here for Shashi’s cooking class. If you believe TripAdvisor, this is the “number one tour” in the Rajasthani city of breathtaking lakes and palaces.

Shashi Sanadhya, the widow who runs the classes in her two-room home, washed clothes for a living until three years ago. Then some Irish tourists who befriended her two sons asked her to teach them a few curries and encouraged her to go into business. Now the 45-year-old is capitalising on the growing trend for cookery tourism.

Sanadhya teaches travellers to make north Indian dishes and breads in her little brick kitchen that opens out on to the streets made famous by Roger Moore in Octopussy. And despite working seven days a week giving two five-hour lessons a day, the indefatigable cook often has more pupils than she can accommodate.

Our class of four — a Canadian couple recently engaged at the Taj Mahal, a New York lawyer on a cycle tour of India and me — are the latest to fall under her spell. Huddled around her coffee table on plastic chairs, we’re listening to Sanadhya in her turmeric-coloured sari explaining the character of north Indian cuisine.

“Wheat flour more, rice less. Coconut oil just for hair in the north not for cooking. In south people are eating coconut oil,” Shashi says, using her hands to elaborate broken English. “Indians not using much cream,” she tells us. “You eating cream and feeling heavy, this one is light. Cashew nut powder making rich gravy; not cream.”

Chastened for our love of spicy saturated fat, we move to the kitchen where we’re put to work crushing ginger, cardamom and black pepper for masala chai, a sweet aromatic milky tea and the fuel on which Indians run. Coriander, onions, tomatoes, and peppers, all for the vegetable pilau, arrive chopped and diced by Shashi’s son Ashish.

Sanadhya tells us some of her Indian kitchen secrets: hard tomatoes are best for curry; a pinch of bicarbonate of soda helps chickpeas to cook faster; good dough is the key to a great chapati. During the five-hour lesson, which costs 500 rupees (£6.50), we learn to make squashy naan bread topped with cheese and tomato and how to spin a roti (Indian flat bread) on a hotplate.

But the most captivating thing about the class is the way Sanadhya blends her own story into the lesson. While learning the recipe for the perfect pakora, we hear a tale of arranged marriage, a husband murdered by his business partner leaving two young children and a widow who can never remarry because of the rules of her Brahmin cast. It’s an insight into Indian family intrigue that can’t be gained at the forts and palaces of Rajasthan.

More than three quarters of a million British tourists visited India in 2010, and that number is on the rise. Many are lured by the promise of a stunning variety of dishes with aromas and flavours as exotic as the country’s architecture and wildlife. Increasing numbers want to learn to cook like a local while they’re here.

Alex Mead, editor of Food and Travel Magazine, estimates that, globally, the number of destinations offering cookery courses has grown threefold in the past 18 months. “Everyone is trying to get in on it,” he says, “every hotel you go to will offer you something so that you can make the local dishes.” Leaving the little lilac kitchen, we cross paths with the next group of tourists. Izzy Wayling and her boyfriend Matt Jonns, both 23 and from East London, are looking for culinary souvenirs. “It’s something to bring back with us, to recreate,” Izzy says. They’ve just come from Jaipur, the pink city and capital of Rajasthan, where I head next to cook with a family from the warrior Rajput caste.

Divya Singh began offering cooking classes when tourists visiting her home to eat traditional food wanted to know how to cook the dishes she served.

“Now in Europe you have the Indian stores where all the ingredients are so easily available but people don’t necessarily know what to do with them,” Singh, 36, tells me while we chop onions on her rooftop terrace.

The Singh family has lived on this site for 285 years, as long as there has been a city in Jaipur. So I’m trying not to burn the place down as Singh tells me to place an aubergine smeared in oil and punctured with garlic on to a naked gas flame.

In our three-hour lesson (£32 with dinner), we’re making fired aubergine, a Rajasthani speciality with a chargrilled, buttery, garlicky flavour and a spicy aroma that fills the large kitchen as we mash the aubergine flesh into fried onion, chilli, coriander and turmeric.

“There’s a definite order of spices but one family’s curry will be different from another, it is passed down from mother to daughter,” says Singh, who runs four or five classes a week, up from four or five a month when she started 11 years ago. “A lot of people ask if we have a curry powder in our spice box. It’s a big misconception. There is no curry powder,” she says. “They are putting a lot of spices together and fooling a person. The curry is the gravy which is made by putting together onion, garlic, ginger and the dry spices.”

On the next gas ring my husband, Andrew, is making what look like Pizza Express dough balls but are in fact baati, oily wheat dough discs cooked in a flame tandoor (stove-top oven) and dipped in clarified butter or ghee. Alongside curried lentils — Dal Baati — they are served at special occasions such as Holi , the spring harvest festival, which this year falls on March 8 and 9.

We sit down to eat in the grand surroundings of the Singhs’ drawing room around a traditional Rajasthani low-slung silver-plated table. It’s a long way from Shashi’s coffee table in Udaipur but the food tastes just as satisfying, fresh and authentic. Even if we did make it ourselves.


References

This article is originated from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/jaipurfect-2md9hmn7ws8

all credit goes to the author for this article

The Travel Project by Nadine Sykora

19Apr

Divya Kalwara, a home cook turned professional chef for her now co-owned BnB business with her husband. She taught me how to prepare a wonderful dhal and vegetable curry and we got to eat her flavourful Rajasthani dishes. I kid you not, this was one of the best meals of my whole time in India! All while I learned about her life story.

Divya’s story was one of a typical Indian woman. She was a stay at home cook, but she excelled at it! While women in India traditionally do all the cooking, there aren’t very many professional female chefs. It’s a highly male dominated industry because as soon as you are elevated to cooking professionally, many men don’t think women can handle the stress and responsibilities involved. 

Divya is one woman trying to break those misconceptions. She regularly cooks for groups of guests, at food festivals, and even has a cook book coming out later this year! Just seeing Divya do all these things will hopefully inspire other at-home female cooks to make their own leap into the professional world of cooking. Because if all the women can cook like Divya, boy are we on the verge of an India foodie revolution!


References

This article is originated from http://www.contiki.com/six-two/women-of-india-inspiring-female-revolution/

all credit goes to the author for this article

10 Top Things to Do In Jaipur

17Apr

The “Pink City” of Jaipur, one push-pin point on the “Golden Triangle” (along with Delhi and Agra), has so much to recommend it, it’s worth more than one cursory day trip.

  • Ride to the top of Amer Fort atop an elephant, like the Raj’s used to do it. OK, so it’s touristy and you’ll get lunged at by photographers hawking those pictures taken of you on the ride up, but, hey, where else are you going to do this? (And, how did these hustlers find you, anyway, among all of those hundreds of people? Impressive). Once up top, take time to tour the Palace within the walls of the fort for its magnificently adorned rooms.
  • Ogle the bejeweled walls of the Amer Fort Palace in the Hall of Mirrors (Sheesh Mahal), tiny convex mirrors and colored glass compositions that form a breathtaking kaleidoscope. The Palace complex itself consists of four courtyards, each with its own use and history. But the mirrored series of rooms are by far the most captivating – and one can only imagine what it was like to see tens of thousands of tiny reflective surfaces aglitter in candlelight. Historians have compared it to being inside a dazzling jewel box.
  • Take a picture of the pink Wind Palace (Hawa Mahal) – quite possibly the most photographed and iconic structure in Jaipur. It is essentially a multi-tiered latticed screen wall, built in 1799 to hide the faces of the female Royals who could look upon the street processions below while protecting their modesty.
  • Tour the City Palace, Jaipur. One of the more “modern” palaces, this series of buildings and courtyards was built in 1729 for the Maharaja of Jaipur, and is a delight to tour – if just for the ornately designed doors and archways alone. Be sure to look for the courtyard sporting fantastic peacock renderings – they look like the real thing, but if you can imagine, even more colorful.
  • Wander among the soaring sundials at Jantar Mantar – an outdoor observatory park.This collection of 19 astronomical instruments, some the size of two-story buildings and spread out over a couple of acres, could pass for a popular playground in the USA. The various architectural structures built in masonry, stone and brass are just aching to be climbed (but you can’t). Built in 1734, it is an engineering and scientific wonder – and a prime example of Ptolemaic positional astronomy, the theory shared by most of the world’s scientists of the day.
  • Learn about the cuisine of Northern India by helping to prepare it yourself with Divya Singh. It might take awhile to find her home – as it’s in a back ally amidst the craziness of Old Jaipur Bazaar. (Divya sends an employee out to fetch her customers when they get lost). And it may seem as if you’re heading to a less than stellar abode, but do not despair. As soon as you walk in the door, the mayhem outside melts away. Divya begins her cooking class, over tea, with a cultural exchange of ideas in her lovely living room. Then it’s time to move up to the instruction and dining area – another eye-catching surprise. Divya enlists your help to prepare and then eat a meal in a newly stenciled large blue room. It’s a wonderful way to learn about Indian cooking methods with a gracious host. The meal itself is delicious. For now, contact Divya Singh at divyakalwara@yahoo.com to book a cooking class. (Divya also runs a B&B – www.havelikalwara.com ; pretty pleasant rooms with shared bath cost just $20-$26 per night).

References

This article is originated from http://dnasyndication.com/dna/dna_english_news_and_features/A-culinary-trail-Kalwara/DNJAI61286

all credit goes to the author for this article

From Housewife To Renowned Chef

17Apr

After her successful stint in ITC during its food festival and getting featured in journals like London Times and Chicago Suntime, it is a matter of honor for us to feature the story of the talented Chef Divya Kalwara.

Divya runs a dine-in facility at her home for tourists visiting Jaipur. She generally invites 30 people for a meal, making them gorge on delicious home-cooked Rajasthani feast. This includes mouth-watering vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes.

Divya, a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’, is now a professional chef. Thanks to the rich culture she belongs too. “You know how Rajputs are; they love everything regal and loaded. Our food is not just famous on the world’s food map,” said Divya.

Seeing her relentless obsession with the culture and its food practices, Divya’s granny and mother taught her secret recipes that are famous in the Rajput clan. Today when she warmly welcomes the tourists over the scrumptious dinners, she is flooded with compliments. She chuckled and told us how people go gaga after they taste the food cooked in her kitchen.

When asked about her favorite dish from her mother’s kitchen, she said, “Safed maas.” Divya continued, “My mother cooked the best safed maas. I try to prepare it in the same way, but I am not sure if I am able to match that class.”

While talking about Rajputi recipes, we thought to involve the Chef in a rapid-fire round. Have a look:

What’s your speciality?

Laal-maas, Dhungar-maas, Bhuna-maas and Dhaniya-murg.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

A group of foreigners once told me that the food I cooked for them was far better than what they had eaten at some of the most famous 5-star properties in Jaipur.

In what ways does your family compliment you?

Oh, my kids love the home-cooked food! They never throw tantrums on being served the basic chapatti accompanied with a non-vegetarian dish, unlike the kids of today’s generation. I think this is the best way they can praise me.

Failure?

Ummm…not yet! Maybe because I cook myself!

What about the future?

I definitely want to write a book revealing those secret recipes.

Are you proud of what you’ve achieved over the years?

I am happy about the fact that my work is somewhere trying to preserve the Rajasthan’s Rajput culture. Too much westernization has entered into our lifestyle and is reflected in our food, clothing, etc. Many tourists tell me how they never get to taste the real flavor of Rajasthan throughout their trip. I researched a lot before I went ahead with my business idea. Moreover, when tourists come, I make sure to dress up in that traditional Rajputi Poshak. They also love the concept of joint-family while visiting my home, because this concept is not very common in the west. All this fascinates them.

Lastly, how important are the spices in your recipes?

Very! Just like how we need spices in our lives! *winks* However, when I am cooking for the tourists, I keep the masala to a minimum, considering their sensitive tongue.

We wish you all the luck in the world, dear Divya. By excelling in this field, you are definitely opening the way for women like you. At the same time, your vision is an answer to people who think that Rajput women just stay hidden under the veils.

 


References

This article is originated from http://www.indianwomenblog.org/from-housewife-to-renowned-chef-read-the-story-of-jaipurs-divya-kalwara/

all credit goes to the author for this article