Lakeside at Shiv Niwas Palace. Warm breeze off the water. Full moon above, twinkling lights below. On the lawn, royal ladies mingle alongside royal chefs. The legendary hospitality of Mewari royalty made even better. Thanks to Jyoti Jasol, General Manager – Events.
Can it get better?
It can, and it did. After a week in North India, my EYHO Tours Cooking with Maharajas 2013 group’s Western palates yearned for a break from rich Indian cuisine. With a wave of Shriji’s and Padmaja Kumari ji’s royal wand, their wish came true. The mewari dishes were not only delicious but oil and fat free as well.
Upon arrival at the Shiv Niwas portal, we thought we had landed in a fairytale. The palace was lit up for Holi festivities. Overlooking the lake were cooking stations manned by Chef Akhil Ranjan and Chef Love Mathur, and also two gracious ladies of the royal family, Bhanwarani Sahiba Rama Kumari ji of Karjali, and Bhanwarani Sahiba Sanghmitra Kumari ji of Karjali. An inspired gesture of bonhomie, their presence allowed the group to mingle and ask down-home culinary questions. Over cocktails, the group wandered from station to station, taking in delicacies prepared using traditional Mewari recipes dating back to 1400 years ago.
Primarily a lake region, the Mewari diet includes fresh water fish and corn (makkai) as opposed to millet (bajra). We learnt how to make Steamed Stuffed Bhindi, Chicken Biryani in a rice cooker, Steamed Keema Kofta Curry, Mewari Lauki (bottle gourd), and Phirni. Rotis billowing on an upturned clay pot over blazing charcoal elicited oohs and aahs, while Paneer Tikka and Fish ka Sula appetizers whetted appetites for the feast that followed.
Amazingly – and since we watched, we can attest to this – not a smidgen of oil or added fat went into the food. Amazingly, it was exceedingly delicious.
“An evening I will never forget” – by group member Carolyn W.
I thought long and hard about my aha! moment on the trip and there were so many it was hard to narrow it down. I do keep going back though to the absolutely magical night in Udaipur at the Shiv Niwas Palace. The evening reception, complete with a cooking demonstration by the gorgeous and gracious women of the royal family, stands out in my mind. We were all on our best behavior, comfortable after a week in our Indian garb and relaxed with one another in the group. The palace location was awe inspiring in its beauty and the perfect evening – under a full moon, lit by candlelight, being in the presence of mewari royalty, dining on unbelievably delicious food, with a group of wonderful women – added up to an evening that I will never forget. Thank you. Carolyn