India as a country is extremely rich in culture, traditions and cuisines. Not only does every state have it’s unique offerings but within each state is a plethora of riches and variety to offer in terms of all the above, especially food. Hence it is not a surprise that most of us Indians are not familiar with many of the cuisines within each state or the interiors. Bundelkhand food is definitely one which I had no personal experience of until I visited the ongoing Bundelkhandi food festival at Taj Diplomatic Enclave, Dhaula Kuan.
Food festivals have become the order of the day with only a few having something special to offer and the rest being just run of the mill fests. However what is interesting to see is the current trend of Hotels curating cuisines of different states and more so if it is a food festival of a lesser known cuisine such as Bundelkhandi. Bundelkhand is a mountain range which falls between UP and MP with a major part of it falling in MP. Taj Diplomatic Enclave inspired by the royal kitchens of this region decided to bring in the traditional tastes for people to carry this experience through a festival they are holding from the 17th to 26th November at their inhouse Indian speciality restaurant Masala Art.
The restaurant is open both for lunch and dinner and offers options of Ala-carte and Bundelkhandi Raj Bhog which is a royal Bhundelkhandi set meal. Manager Rishabh Singh Bundela has been instrumental and played a key role in putting together Bundelkhandi ‘Culture on a platter’ (as they have named it). Mr Bundela hails from Datia and descends from the royal family of Bundelkhand. The fest has a feel good factor with true Mehmaan-Nawazi of Bundelkhand experienced first hand. The hotel has specially brought in five chefs who cook at the home of the royalty for the festival. It was lovely being greeted with such warmth by Parineeta Raje and her husband Rahul Dev Singh from the Royal House of Datia state, the chefs and the Hotel team who have put together Bundeli culture on a platter.
The start to our meal was mattha, spiced buttermilk served in true authentic style in kullads. The mattha was so addictive that one could not stop at just having one helping of it. What arrives next at the table is Bara (split black lentil dumplings soaked in buttermilk tempered with mustard seeds). We are told by the manager that one is supposed to add crushed sugar provided at the table to these dumplings to eat it as per their tradition.
With no personal experience of food from this region I am like a lost person looking at the Royal Bundelkhandi set meal when it arrives. However love for food has one trying to figure out some of the dishes on one’s own though the Royal family members joined us later and explained the dishes on our platter. The food from this region is extremely rustic & healthy is what I learn from this experience.
The non veg platter includes Keeme ki tikki, Bundeli Gosht, Shikaar Gosht and Kadaknath Murgha. Kadaknath is an Indian breed of chicken local to the Madhya Pradesh area. It is popular for it’s good tasting black meat. However due to the unavailability of this breed here in Delhi the locally supplied chicken is used for the preparation. The breads include tikkad, jowar ki roti, bajre ki roti and adraini luchai which is very soft to eat. The end to all things good has to be sweet and Rass ki kheer and Magadh ke ladoo add more sweetness to our experience.
To complete the Mehmaan Nawazi the fest also has a dance and music troupe from the region which has us enjoying the folk dance performance. Samples of costumes worn by royalty are on display along with a few pictures from the royal family to add to the experience culturally.
Somethings are best experienced and I come away having been enriched with this one.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 3.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 5000 ++ | Wheel Chair Friendly: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes
Address: Taj Diplomatic Enclave, 2 Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi 110021 | Phone: 011-26110202
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.