Jaipur, a popular tourist location, is also known for some of the well known and sought-after food joints. I have had a pleasure of living in the city, even though briefly, and savour the must try pyaaz ki kachori, makhaniya lassi, laal maas, ghevar and even the icecream and dry fruits laden papaya shake. Some names have become iconic and since they appear in every magazine and food shows, they have started emblematizing the product. Amongst these, there is a very popular name that also serves Rajasthani thaali but it neverworked for me. So when my friend told me that an old establishment, Chanakya, that was popular for its Rajasthani food has been refurbished and is now called Grand Chanakya to give it a much better ambience with the recipes retained from the old chefs, I have to give it a try.
Grand Chanakya is now a part of Leisure Inn hotel located on MI road which is Jaipur’s lifeline. Hardly 10-min away from the railway station, we arrive much hungry after a small breakfast served in Shatabdi that is hardly sufficient for my size. I do wonder why the same meal is served to a child, an under nourished, a regular, and an oversized person. Either it will lead to a waste or someone being left underfed like me in this case.
As we set inside Grand Chanakya and hear the Rajasthani folk music in the back ground, we found the air-conditioning to be very effective and a huge specially made painting of Chanakya adorning the wall. Rajasthanis are known for their hospitality and it is visible right from the word go. We all decide to settle down on the ground floor of this 80-seater restaurant equally divided between two floors. Like any other Marwari restaurant, Grand Chanakya only serves vegetarian food and they take pride in the fact that they do not even share their kitchen or utensils with the other restaurant in Leisure Inn that also serves non veg cuisine. A tad disappointed on not getting to taste the popular but chilly lal maas, we start with dongri chhaachh.
Dongri chhaachh is slightly smoked and tempered with hing, jeera and adrak. The smokiness is subtle yet adds to the taste. Next is Moong Dal shorba. This soup is certainly the best and all my friends unanimously fell in love with it. Some of them wanted the recipe and some instructing their better halves to note and remember the taste characteristics. This soup has all the spices and mint added to it during boiling and post straining a jeera tadka is added to it. So the whole spices flavors remain but not the bite. A soup so simple yet made so well that if I can perfect it, this will certainly be on my list of gourmet dinners for my friends.
Malai broccoli kebab has a dryish texture but then nothing much can be done to broccoli. I do enjoy the spicy aloo corn sesame kebab while my mind is still on the main thaali that is eagerly awaited and which is the sole reason of our traveling to Jaipur.
Having eaten many royal Rajasthani thaalis, the look of this thaali is not overwhelming. There are only 6-7 dishes while many thaalis can leave a normal person exasperated with the choices. However what comes out beautifully is the preparation of the dishes. In a Rajasthani meal there is no dessert. The churma or any other sweet can be eaten before, with the meal or after the meal. The two types of churmas – aata and besan, both are fabulous. Churma that has a texture similar to Punjabi panjeeri has no saunth or other spices that are quintessential in panjeeri. Traditionally, it is made by baked baati and then finely broken to get that smoky aroma.
The ker-sangri that normally has a bitter flavor has been intelligently made more balanced with reduction of ker in the dish and addition of raisins and cashews. Simple dal compliments the otherwise heavy meal while magodi-papad sabji makes me ask for more. These goes pretty well with the bajre and missi roti served along. I end the meal with the house made kesariya rasmalai.
The newly constructed rooms of Leisure Inn are not only very economical but equally comfortable too. If I have to compare them to any five star property, the availability of safe vault, comfortable bed, mini bar, amongst other facilities, the difference would be negligible with may be the fruit platter being the only thing missing. But at Rs2200 average tariff per night, I am not complaining. The hotel is centrally located and for anyone who wants to explore the city, it is very convenient.
I did not use the spa, fitness centre or the banquet facility, but the open air Arya Bar & Grill is a great way to relax with some of the interesting veg and non veg kebabs. I enjoyed the salmon tikka and veg kurkuri that is chef’s version of Indianised wanton with filling of mushroom, cottage cheese, green chilly and tomato. Don’t miss the paan kulfi for anything.
If you are in Jaipur and looking for authentic Rajasthani thaali or looking for a convenient and economical stay, Grand Chanakya and Leisure Inn are definitely worth considering.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 (air-conditioning temperature can be set higher)) | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs. 1200 | Credit Cards: Yes | Timings: 12 noon to 3 pm (Lunch); 7pm to 11PM (Dinner) | Wheel Chair Accessible: Yes, the front entrance from road is the only hindrance
Address: Grand Chanakya, Leisure Inn, 4A-B, Kashi Bhawan, Panch Batti, MI Road, Jaipur | Telephone: 0141-4333333