The first introduction to India that most travellers get is often on the plate in their own country. Don’t we all love cities like London or New York City where Indian food is a must and the real deal is served. (try in NYC the Punjabi restaurants where you spot lots of yellow cabs outside, which is always a good sign). But nothing beats the real deal in India. Fear for a Delhi belly? “Eat Turmeric, lots of turmeric.” Says chef Bhargava, aka BG, executive chef at Amanbagh. “Turmeric disinfected and inhibits inflammation, next to the other countless benefits of this bright yellow root.” BG is from the south of the country and his cuisine presents a mix of local Radjasthani specialities and classics of South India. BG is an expert in the Ayurvedic cuisine and has an interest for the royal cuisine. Recipes that have been invented especially for hungry maharajahs and fragile princesses. Often these recipes require some work and preparation and it takes time not only to make them but also to eat and enjoy them. Because the kings in India used to have plenty of time and lots of manpower.
Could it be that slow food was invented here? BG tells how sometimes entire goats were stuffed with chickens, the chickens filled with quails and quails with boiled eggs. The goat was then roasted over the fire or slowly cooked in a large copper or brass pot called a lagan.
In Rajasthan, the Rajput, the former warrior clan, used a similar method of slow cooking named the Khud. Game meat was marinated in yoghurt and spices and then wrapped with Indian flat bread and leaves. The meat was cooked in a pit in the ground for hours and hours on layers of charcoal, closed tightly with clay so the pit gets the same function as a modern oven. A favorite of the hungry warriors at the time was “Khud Khargosh”, freely translated as rabbit in the pit.
In this fertile valley BG the chef has his own organic vegetable garden of nearly 1.3 hectares. More than 80% of what is served in the hotel, come from the vegetable garden. Grapes, sprouts, cilantro, basil, tomatoes, eggplants, mustard plants, guava, edible violets … In BG’s garden butterflies flutter around and smells of exotic blossoms lingers in the air. The chef says he believes in an honest cuisine and Indian cooking is not that difficult, you just need to know a few basic steps and respect a certain order of cooking or adding ingredients or spices.
He will prepare for us a dish from the royal kitchen tonight. So we will feel like a real maharajah.