New TV show will explore the royal kitchens of Western Indian palaces
A sneak peek into unexplored palaces, royal culinary treats and secret recipes that have been passed on from generation to generation, is what a new television show called Food Tripping will offer. The inspiration came from the personal experiences of the channel’s team who felt it would be interesting to see two chefs take a road trip together and sample cuisine in a royal setting. "
(From left) Chefs Ranveer Brar and Gautam Mehrishi at the start of their journey
The six palaces that air on the show on Living Foodz, include Balasinor, Gondal, Bhavnagar, Wadhvan, Chula and Sayla, all located in the vibrant state of Gujarat were selected because they are unique and their history, ethos and cuisine are unexplored. We tried to bring out the rich heritage and gastronomic secrets of the royal families in this area, says chef Ranveer Brar who will present the show with chef Gautam Mehrishi.
Royal melting pot
"Indian royal cuisine is very different from other regions because it is influenced by different cultures. Royal families used to travel extensively and this heavily influenced their food. The kings were food connoisseurs and loved introducing different dishes at their banquets. Indian royal food is the perfect amalgamation of local ingredients with international cooking techniques," shares Mehrishi.
According to Brar, India’s royal cuisine does not have geographic boundaries. "While there is a distinct influence of the local produce, the dishes and techniques used for preparing food are global. This is because royal families would appoint chefs from Europe to entertain their overseas guests. We were also told that the marriages between the royal families across India brought in an interesting mix of pan-Indian recipes," he points out.
Tales from the tour
>> The staple diet of the royal families in this region is simple and comprises fresh ingredients and subtle flavours. They eat extravagant food only on special occasions and festivals.
>> Strangely, we also discovered that the kings and princes loved to cook as much as the queens. They were well versed in cooking, and understood the nuances of finer flavours
>> We discovered a green vegetable called Cheel, which is a variety of bathua but distinctly floral
>> Almost all the palaces that we visited had a huge staff; however, the Bhavnagar Palace had
>> The Begum Sahiba of Balasinor spoke to us about a Murgh Musallam recipe, which was stuffed with nuts, mince and eggs. The dish would take two hours for preparation and another two hours to cook!
Ranveer: Balasinor, being a Muslim sooba (Urdu for province) that was ruled by a Nawab, has a strong Mughal influence in its cuisine. Bhunno and Dum are the methods used for preparation. The use of cashew and curd is another distinguishing feature.
Gautam: Mughlai cuisine is popular in Balasinor and their staple diet has a lot of meat and locally grown vegetables. The Begum is well versed in European cooking and can cook a fabulous shepherd’s pie and caramel pie, in addition to the royal Mughlai dishes. The Maharaja Express, which is the most expensive luxury train in the world, has a buffet with over 35 dishes, an assortment of different cuisines. The menu is always discussed and meticulously planned by Begum Sahiba and her personal chef. The prince is also very fond of cooking and an expert at preparing Sukha Mutton.
Ranveer: There is a certain finesse and precision that is charachteristic of the Gondal kitchens. The recipes are more intricate and take time to prepare; however, we learnt an interesting one-pot meal recipe for Chicken Gondal. This dish can be cooked in just 10 minutes
Gautam: Gondal’s cuisine is also based on local produce. Apart from the Chicken Gondal, which made for a great recipe to learn, I loved the brinjal curry, which had a Rajput touch to it. The Maharani from Gondal is passionate about cooking, well-travelled and loves experimenting with food.
Ranveer: Bhavnagari food has a Rajput influence, with a lot of Rajputana style recipes showing up in its repertoire. The food is colourful and spicy, thanks to the local variety of chilli, which is distinct in both flavour and colour.
Gautam: The food tradition in Bhavnagar is influenced by Rajasthani Rajputs. The food is rich in dry fruit, ghee and malai/cream, which are all homemade!
Ranveer: There is a definite East-meets-West influence in all aspects of Chula, whether it is the architecture and interiors of the palace or the cuisine. French and English cooking styles like pan frying and stewing are popularly seen in this region.
Gautam: We had the opportunity to visit the Green House Place, which was a wonderful experience. We ate
a meal that offered a great variety, from starters to desserts; the food was a mix of Gujarati and Rajput (Mewar) style.
Ranveer: We observed that people from Sayla take pride in local ingredients, and recipes from this region are seasonal and local. This helps in keeping the royal palate engaged at all times!