This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Udaipuri Tangdi, a chicken drumstick marinated with yoghurt and spices
Ever since I made my maiden voyage across to Rajasthan in 2015, I have been fascinated with the state’s food, and wanted to discover a greater amount about the gastronomy of the state. It’s diverse, no doubt, and clearly divided in opinion about the consumption of meat and vegetables, and which is greater than the other. For some reason, in more recent times in Goa, there’s been an upswing in the places that have been focusing on Rajasthani food, and the most recent promotion, is one that has been undertaken by one of my preferred properties, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa; one that they have simply titled ‘Rajasthani Bhojan’, which is in focus at their ethnic-themed restaurant, ‘Masala’.
I began my evening of gastronomic exploration with a refreshing drink (it was a warm evening, in keeping with the Rajasthani cuisine, the Gods sorted that one for me) called 'Kairi ka Jaljeera', a mango and cumin infused drink that was absolutely delightful. Let’s just saw that it was highly reminiscent of liquidised hajmola; and who doesn’t love hajmola?
The first course was titled 'prarambh', and it really did serve as a warming of a long-drawn evening ahead. Several dishes made up the round, from ‘Paneer ke Sule’, which was char grilled cottage cheese with red chillies; to ‘Pyaaz Kachori’, a deep fried, onion-stuffed savoury disc, hollowed out and filled with a series of embellishments; ‘Kamli Vada’, a deep fried lentil dumpling that is meant to be eaten with chutney; ‘Udaipuri Tangdi’, a chicken drumstick marinated with yoghurt and spices; and my personal favourite of the course, ‘Maas ke Sule’, char-grilled lamb that had been marinated with yoghurt and chillies. The little chunks of meat were flavourful beyond belief, and possessed a smokiness that I yearn for in most meals, and do not seem to find.
The main course, labelled 'mukia bhoj' was then brought forth, in the form of a thali with many assorted offerings. The thali was laden with vatis, or little metal, ramekin-like dishes, each containing portions of many varied forms of Rajasthani cuisine. This included the likes of the ‘Mewad Subz’, which was a combination of mixed seasonal vegetables, tossed with fresh onion and tomato; ‘Rajasthani Kadi’, a spiced yoghurt curry with fried lentil dumplings; ‘Ker Sangri’, a classic dish, made combining dry leafy vegetables tempered with pickled spices, a shrub berry called ker, and sangri, the bean of a flowering tree called khejari; and ‘Gatte ki Subzi’, a steamed and fried dumpling soaked in a yoghurt-based curry.
No Rajasthani meal can ever be complete without the evergreen dish that is associated with the state – ‘Dal Bhati Churma’, a traditional Rajasthani marriage of sweet and savoury. Conventionally, the bhati, a round, almost hard bread would be baked over firewood or over kandas (or cow dung cakes), before being soaked in ghee. These are then served with the savoury dal and sweet churma. Together, as simple as they sound, these three make up a culinary holy trinity of sorts, when it comes to Rajasthani food. It was on our thali too, and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with all the flavours being on point.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The thali that featured our main course offerings
And speaking of classics from the region, how could one fail to make a mention of the ‘Laas Maas’, the state’s flagship mutton dish, famous for its zesty incorporation of a massive amount of red Mathania chillis? It has been said that the excessive use of chilli stemmed from the fact that the meat first used was boar or deer was gamey, and as such, the chilli would help conceal the odour. Here, however, the dish is more contemporary, with tender bits of lamb being used, and to be fair, the spice has been toned down…a lot.
Counterbalancing this dish was the ‘Safed Murg’, an extremely mild Rajasthani delicacy made of chicken that highlighted all the flavours of yoghurt and cream, belying the spices that lay underneath. It is the perfect companion to the ‘Laal Maas’; one fires you up, while the other settles you down.
The carbohydrate component on this massive platter comprised the classic ‘Phulka’ – supremely healthy and made of whole wheat, cooked on a griddle; an interesting flatbread called a ‘Masala Tikadia’, which is also whole wheat, but rather reminiscent of the Gujarati thepla; and last on this list, the ‘Gatte ka Pulao’, which was a lot like a cross between a biryani and a pulao, but interspersed with the conventional spiced dumplings representing the 'gatte' side of things.
The evening ended with a healthy dose of the sweet stuff in the form of a rich almond pudding or ‘Badam Halwa’. Utterly decadent, it seemed to ooze ghee. Did I say healthy? Never mind! What’s life without an occasional walk on the waistline’s wild side?
This little journey won’t run for too long; only until August 27, 2017, in fact. There’s no time like the present to get yourself there; and just a friendly piece of advice, skip your previous meal.
Eat in the outdoor section of the restaurant, as the vibe there is more authentic.
The dishes are extremely heavy, so avoiding a heavy meal earlier in the day is recommended.
The average cost of a meal for two, minus the libations, is ₹2,500 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Arossim Beach, Cansaulim, Goa 403712
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.