Marwari cuisine is the cuisine of the people from the erstwhile princely state of Marward in Rajasthan. It is a cuisine which has its genesis in the desert belts. Due to the scarcity of water, ingredients like milk, butter milk, and butter were heavily used in the kitchen. Food that could last several days or food that would have been eaten without heating was preferred. Marwari recepies are utilitarian, yet they offer an amazing variety and depth of flavours. As the people from Marward, who are famous for their business accumen, travelled across the country, they spread their cuisine and also influenced local cuisines. Sheraton Hyderabad’s Executive Sous Chef Sumit Kedia, who hails from Ked village in Rajasthan, has curated a lavish spread to celebrate the food of the Marwaris.
A couple of days ago, I was invited to experience the Marwari Food festival. The festival is being hosted at Feast – Sheraton’s all day dining cafe. The Marwari dishes have replaced the usual Indian dishes on the buffet. I started off at the live station which was dishing out popular street food. Moong Dal Chilla is a soft dosa like preparation of ground Moong Dal batter with a stuffing of cottage cheese. It looks similar to a Pesarettu Dosa but is softer and has a simple, non-spicy, paneer stuffing. The Chaat counter was offering Dahi Gujiya, Papdi Chat, Golgappe, Tawa chat, Palak patta chat, and Kachori with chana aur moth. I tried the crispy Paak Patta (batter fried spinach leaves) Chat and the Kachori with Chana aur Moth, and was happy with both.
Dal Baati and Churma is one of the most iconic dishes of Rajasthan, and you just can’t have any Rajasthani food festival without this dish. Dal Baati originated amongst the nomadic, warrior tribes of Rajasthan who would break of chunks of dough and bury it under the sand. The heat of the dessert would cook these doughs, which would later be consumed with Ghee. Chef Kedia told me that while the dishes on the buffet will be rotated, Dal Baati will be present every day. The stuffing inside Dal Baati will, however, vary. On the day I went the buffet featured the plain Dal Baati, without any stuffing. The Dal Baati at Sheraton was a little different from the usual stuff. It wasn’t a Bafla, a variant of Baati in which the dough is boiled before being baked to make it softer. Yet, the Baati wasn’t as hard as what I’ve had before. The outer layer was firm with a hint of crispiness, while the centre was quite soft. While this might make the purists shake their head, I absolutely loved the Dal Baati and went back for a second helping. We had two bloggers on the table who hail from Rajasthan, and both had nothing but praises to offer for this dish.
Marwari cuisine is a vegetarian cuisine; however, the Rajputs of the region consumed a wide range of game birds and animals. The preparations were once again quite rustic and simple. The buffet offered Mutton ke Soole, which is barbecued lamb. I was surprised to learn from Chef Kedia that even fish is a part of the Rajasthani cuisine. He explained that not everyone could afford fish and it was considered a delicacy and a treat for the royals of the time. The Sarson Machli on the buffet is a dish that clearly draws inspiration from the flavours of Punjab.
After two rounds of Dal Baati I was left with very little room for the main courses, but I did sample the various dishes on offer. The Ker Sangri, an absolutely delightful tangy and spicy curry of beans and berries, was the star here. Some of the other dishes on offer included Dal Panchmel, Achari Aloo, Paneer ka Kut, Mirch Baingan, Kadi, and Mutton Soweta. Staples on offer included Bajre ki Roti, Missi Roti, Gheer Phulka, Masala Tikadia, and Kaju Kismis Pulao.
Save up some space for the desserts, as the desserts counter is expansive. Some of the things on offer were Jalebi, Moong Dal Hhalwa. Coconut Gulab Jamun, Malpua, Balushahi, Gujiya, Khowa Barfi, Laal Peda, and Ghewar with Rabri. If you have an appetite after this you can try the assorted fruits and western desserts.
The Marwari Food Festival is on until the 25th of November. It’s a part of the lunch and dinner buffet at Feast which are priced at Rs. 1175 plus taxes. The Sunday brunch starts from Rs. 1450.