A Glutton's Journals- Ajmer

on Monday, November 21, 2011

A food aficionado on prowl
I belong to a family of food crazy people. Not only my immediate family, but even near and distant kinfolk- all of us obsess about food with an almost religious fervour. A section of us have a chef residing within them, which tries to churn out mouth-watering delicacies for other people's benefit; and another section of us are the unabashed eaters, the perfect heterotrophs, who live off the cooking of other people. I obviously belong to the latter category, as explained explicitly in Mageirocophobia. I hate cooking, but I can't eat bland food, and so, what ensues each night at my home is a long and tiresome discussion, where I reject half the dishes my mother wants to cook. I give her my list of demands, which, mind you, are not easy to meet.

More than home, we (myself and fellow heterotrophs) love exploring newer places which offer interesting answers to our quest of satiating the glutton inside us. From grand and opulent eateries to nondescript, unnoticeable crevices in dingy streets oozing the aroma of unmistakably delicious food, I have had my experiences everywhere. Few of the food experiments did backfire, leading to a sore stomach or a persistent bad taste on my tongue, but many experiences yielded the kind of food whose very thought makes me salivate.

Two such distinct food experiences I had on my recent trip to Ajmer. The first fanned my appetite, the second one provided the happy climax to a perfect meal.

KARARI RUMALI @ Havmor Restaurant, Vega-The Mall, Soochna Kendra Chauraha, Ajmer.

First look of the Karari Rumali, with mint dip hiding under its shadow

Karari Rumali is the first item listed on the menu of the Starters available at this restaurant. The taste comes later, what this dish immediately scores on is the visual appeal it creates. We eat first from our eyes, then nose, then mouth- that is how the saying goes, isn't it? Enormous in size, bigger than perhaps the conventional size of rumali rotis, its crispness enters your ears as the whole family sitting around it breaks off little chunks, and savours them with an brilliantly prepared mint dip. In a restaurant filled to the brim, you can see many similar preparations being gaily eaten away at other tables. For me, it was a good starter. Crisp and light, with no strong flavors, and the sprinkling of the a yummy concoction of tangy spices on top- it tickles your tummy just enough to make way for the heavy main course soon to come. I could associate its texture and flavors closest to a Rajasthani khakra, though the sophistication of its taste surpasses that of a traditional khakra by miles.

DOODH (milk) @ Bhootiya Halwaai, Alwar Gate, Ajmer
Finding favour with a decent crowd, even post eleven at night- Bhootiya Halwaai

After a sumptuous, filling meal, our car drove down a desolate road, with no trace of life whatsoever. At the far end, I could see some light, some human forms, and then a shop with the eeriest name possible- Bhootiya Halwaai. Weird. And even as I got excited, I learned that there is only an embarrassingly tiny legend behind that marvelously intriguing name of this shop. The shop, it is said, serves such amazing thickly boiled milk, that even spirits (bhoots) can't resist its lull and aroma. In some unearthly incidents, it was discovered that all the left over milk mysteriously disappeared from the shop each night, and this was deemed to be the doing of bhoots, and not some hungry/thirsty thief. I don't know about the spirits, but I loved the milk which was served in mitti-ke-kulhad, little earthen cups, which people smash against the ground after consuming its contents. Sweet, boiled, thick milk is one of the most traditional after-dinner-before-bed preparations finding favour with Indians since ages, and I am glad I preferred it to a boring ice-cream for ending my meal. Bhootiya Halwaai knows perfectly how to please his customers, and the lurking spirits too.

These two are the first entries in my food journal. A lot more might just follow. After all, I live to eat, and proudly so. It kind of shows too.