' Thali'... the quintessential Indian fantasy of a wholesome meal..combination of variation of breads and rice and the majestic part the plethora of bowls with variety of curries.. dry, semi gravy, full gravy, pickle , salad, papad and yes...sweet..kheer halwa etc etc
We chanced upon the idea of Rajdhani as husband had to find a good Gujarati food joint to appease his soon to be foreign returned boss. So we set for ' Rajdhani' with me thinking of myself nothing less than an extraordinary food critic and husband just hoping boss would be pleased with a good ' find'.
Well being hard core non veg as we are.. it was a brave endeavour on our part but the rave reviews and since we went there looking for a change.. we were not disappointed rather delighted more at the ambience than at the food. Just took our seats... no fuss about menu , order, waiting.. a huge ' thali' with plenty of bowls..and someone came with an antique jar and dish to wash our hands off.. a royal feeling i must say. Then the boys were at their job filling the bowls, glasses.
Well before we could exchange a word the serving spree continued, chaanch in the earthen kulhad ,rose water, aloo chat, dal bati churma, nariyal kachodi and methi muthiya i think were served as starters!!! Since i am a starter person and very unhealthily binge on the tangy fried food as starters rather than the elaborate heavily spiced main course, i loved the aloo chaat right mix of curd and the tangy taste. methi muthiya was a delight too crispy and delicately flavoured. Nariyal Kachori was too sweet for our taste, dal bati was different though a bit bland at first with a dash of green chutney it seemed wonderful and the churma excellent. (First time i was served dal bati churma i thought the three needed to be had together and hence it was a total diaster!!) Here i have to mention there were four types of chutneys garlic , onion, green pudina dhania chutney, tomato.. two kinds of pickles chilli and the normal carrot wala mixed pickle.The chutneys were the perfect match for the curries each tasting strikingly different from other.
Then a few varieties of papads which did not go very well with the food and were more like tea time snacks and then the rotis. There was the normal roti round, soft and tiny which was okay with so much things to have, peas parantha without oil though you can have your share of butter or ghee but the Jawari roti with gud ( jaggery) clinched the deal, it had such an earthy rustic feeling to it just like enjoying the morning warm sun in December morning sitting in a ' khatiya' in a north indian village!! Food..and its magic ..who doesn,t get mesmerized...
The curries were ordinary stuff aloo sabji ( don,t know why it should be a must), corn paneer ( couldn,t find any trace of corn), tinda sabji ( why tinda of all the vegetables), gatta curry ( but i felt i had better gatta in Jaipur). Khichdi was a different taste for my Bengali taste buds, moong dal khichdi with ghee simple and tasty. The Bengali version with dry roasted moong dal releasing a unique flavour..reminiscent of the mildly spicy khichdi served in the Pujas. Kadi was sweet for my taste and so was another Gujarati dal served but then a less informed me had heard that Gujarati food is essentially sweet.
A little query and we found that the thali was a mixture of Gujarati/ Rajasthani so can,t call it purely authentic. But they have a combination of dishes which they keep rotating. Sweet dish was disappointing.. the strangely named sweet ' sandwich' very ordinary. ' Gajar ka halwa' too tasted different not the usual tasty greasy stuff
but would rate the shrikhand high ( from the land of milk).
A different experience altogether, the boys were apt at refilling the bowls, soon you know you are full.. and the comfortable hand wash as they pour water from that antique jar.. We came out with a mixed feeling..more than the taste a good feel of 'looked after' and ' taken care of' sense prevailed and definitely a great option for vegetarian thali. The fast, apt service, a feeling of complete meal, on the whole a nice experience, expenses almost justified.. somehow i just felt a paan would be just perfect to end the meal...any takers for the idea..
Just hope husband,s soon-to-return boss doesn,t miss the Paan too much!!