Saturday, August 1, 2009

Veggie Nook: Rajdhani

Savour the traditional meal


For a cosy meal The ambience and the thali

If the recent pervasion of Rajasthani serials on the TV has whetted your curiosity for Rajasthan, a visit to the Rajdhani augments the experience. Rajdhani is located in the Big Bazaar Complex in the busy Ameerpet area. It caters to the moviegoers fr om the multiplex (also housed in the complex) and the people who come from far-flung places in search of a Rajasthani meal. Picture of a colourful ‘thaali’ with a promise of 32 items tempts you right at the entrance of the restaurant. A ‘haarthi-tilak’ at the entrance by a person dressed in the traditional Rajasthani attire also greets you.
But as you step in, you do not find the Rajasthani ambience—it’s like any other restaurant. The 62-seater is air-conditioned and all the tables are pre-set with ‘thaalis’ and bowls.
Started two years ago in Hyderabad, this restaurant is a part of the Encore hotels’ group. It serves ‘thaali’ only and runs during lunch and dinner times: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rajdhani also serves the more popular dishes from Gujarat. In addition, you also find one Punjabi curry for the more spicy Hyderabadi palate. Condiments like cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida, coriander seeds and coconut in the recipe perhaps lend that unique and subtle taste to the Rajasthani cuisine.
Before and after the meal, the server pours water from a long-snouted jar to let you wash your hands into a bowl. The Rajdhani has a fixed menu across all its restaurants in the country. The meal starts with two Farsans, or starters. This is followed by two green vegetables, a potato dish, a dish made of pulses, two ‘dals’, three rice varieties, three kinds of Indian breads, three chutneys, pickles, salad and accompaniments.
The green chutney made of coriander and mint; the red chutney made of tamarind and dates and the fiery garlic chutney cater to the tangy palate. Sweet ‘dal’, sweet ‘kadi’, ‘theplas’ and ‘dhoklas’ constitute the Gujarati fare. Three preparations that stand out in the Rajdhani are ‘dal bati’, ‘khichidi’, and ‘phulkas’.

Dal bati is perhaps the best-known Rajasthani food. It consists of ‘dal’, ‘bati’ and ‘churma’ .
‘Khichidi’ made of green gram and rice boiled together, is subtly spiced. When ghee is added to this, it is awesome! Third are the phulkas, around 3” in diameter— very thin, fluffy and soft. At the end of the meal, one gets the feeling of having had a balanced wholesome food.
What is unique in the restaurant is the sign language used between the captain and the waiters. Each sign stands for that particular item in the menu. These silent messages help reduce din in the restaurants.
An invitation on the kitchen door saying ‘Rasoi mein Swagat’ takes you to a very neatly maintained kitchen. The vessels washed thrice in soap, scalding water and lastly normal water adds to the sense of hygiene. Newly begun, is a take-away working lunch aimed at the busy corporator. The parking fee is deducted from your fare.
Priced at Rs.169 for a thaali during weekdays and Rs.199 on Sundays, a meal for two comes to less than Rs. 400.

Rajadhani Restaurant -Ameerpet
Pluses: Mildly-spiced food; Alert waiters.
Minuses: No washroom within the restaurant.
Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3/5; Hygiene: 4.5/5
Located on the 4th Floor in the Big Bazaar Complex; Ameerpet

This article was published HERE.