Chillies walk the Town: Part 2

Just as the first war of Indian Independence was spreading through the country, a rich food tradition had begun to take root in a small corner shop in Jaipur. A present-day shop owner’s great grandfather was granted the title deed of the shop by Sawai Ram Singh II. The great grandson still uses moong ki daal, ghee, mawa and sugar syrup to create a mouthful of heaven.

This walk is for the brave hearts. You march past and into glorious old traditions that make up the grain and texture of the city of Jaipur. You encounter baked goodness in traditional wheat and semolina, combined with saffron and cardamom, almonds and cashews, in crisp, sweet and savoury biscuits. A refugee family from Lahore, Pakistan moved to Jaipur in 1950 to set up a bakery that continues to use biscuit recipes from three generations ago.

Walking into a narrow lane past the Rajasthan School of Art takes you into another old tradition of seasonal goodness – jaggery, sesame and peanuts are made into gajak for cold winter mornings. Another Rajasthani hand-me-down from one generation to the next, they melt and knead, string and pound, to create tangy sweetness with peanuts and sesame.

You march on, tracking down history in the manner in which it absorbs travelling cultures. Sindhi refugees settled in Jaipur due to Partition and cemented here the concept of daal pakwaan as a traditional breakfast. Here, you become a part of one of the oldest breakfast hubs of the city.

Milk that is cooked for hours on a slow fire for hours thickens into sweet rabdi, a typical Rajasthani sweetmeat. You sample this alongside a mixed-flour flatbread that is served with a spicy potato-and-onion preparation that forms the poster image for Rajasthani food.

Asafoetida is used rampantly in our cooking. Kachoris stuffed with lentils and spices, high on asafoetida, are eaten with curd. Wash this down with a refreshing glass of neera – water from the bark of a date tree. We end this hectic food tryst with history with a cup of hot sweet milky tea by the roadside. You get to see how it’s brewed – you’ll be surprised!

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