Dine like royalty
This Dussehra, feast on a heady mix of tradition and authentic flavours inspired by the royal kitchens of Malwa
Chef Anuradha Joshi Medhora has the sweetest voice. She patiently iterates all the items from her limited-edition menu for this weekend that marks the end of Navratri with Dussehra. "It is mainly a Kshatriya festival and I am doing most of the dishes for the first time," shares Medhora, who runs Charoli Foods, which offers food from the Kitchens of The Royals of Malwa.
The feast begins with a chukandar chutney, which uses beetroot and coconut mix inspired from Maharashtra, but leaning towards the flavours of Thanjavur. Next, the kele ka kalwan is served; it resembles a ripened cut banana chaat that is sweet and spicy with a chatpata twist of lemon. The dahi pakoda emerges from the Rajput lineage
"It is best eaten cold. For a hot starter, and to mark the onset of winter, there's the aloo mutter tikki and the subtly spiced kacche keeme ke kebab, in which the keema is marinated for 12 hours," says Medhora, drawing our attention to makai ka soita. "It is slow-cooked in ghee and has an intense flavour compared to the bhutte ka kees. Makai is included in festive dishes since it is locally grown in Malwa," she adds.
The menu takes an ancient turn with murg Bagheli, a dish from the courts of Maharaja of Reva. "This dish is most interesting; it uses locally sourced nemari mirchi, and is slow-cooked in ghee of course, making it a standout dish. To give it takkar, from the Maratha influence, there is hari murgi ka khoot, which has the freshness of coriander, coconut gravy and a lighter palate experience," says Medhora who started Charoli six years ago.
Kacche keeme ke kebab
The aloo do pyaza piques our interest; does the recipe suggest use of only two onions? "Late His Highness Digvijay Singhji of Sailana has written about this dish in the book Cooking Delights of the Maharajas, and it does not mean the use of onion twice in quantity to the aloo. Do pyaza refers to vegetables cooked in meat. Don't ask me why," she laughs.
Parsi traders, who were an integral part of the court and social life of Malwa, influenced the dhan dal. "Many rajas married foreign women, and it was easier for them to mingle with the Parsis. The dhan dal is similar to the Maharashtrian sadhavaran but its jaggery portions give it a different identity," says Medhora.
Anuradha Joshi Medhora
Not to be missed is the bajra khichadi, made with moong dal and bajra from the Rajput kitchens, and the malai paratha. "The flour is kneaded in cold malai, and we layer it with a dollop of malai while cooking. It is ever soft, and used to be served to children and the elderly," she signs off.
Till October 25
Cost Rs 2,750 (feast for two; pre-order necessary)
Malwa's royals had access to a lot of wealth and could source food from all over the world. This was unlike the eastern side of Panna, where food was closely associated with locally-sourced produce. While the royals didn't enjoy much administrative power, they had little to do other than make merry. They organised large celebrations, went on hunts and hosted royals from neighbouring kingdoms, to show off their kitchen prowess.
The Holkars of Indore had three kitchens for vegetarian, British cuisine and non-vegetarian fare. "The influence of British cuisine is also present. With Anglo-Indian marriages, the shepherd's pie, for example, got a desi twist of masalas. Gwalior, with its history of Nepalese princesses, had a Nepali kitchen," she adds.
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