Fine Pastas, Lal Maas
in the desert!
WITHOUT MALICE/By Ravi V.Chhabra
Pushkar stands out as a famous Hindu religious place in Rajasthan that houses the sole Brahma Temple in the world. It is equally famous for the overseas tourists that descend here for the yearly October Cattle and Camel Festival. The sparse clean F&B outlets around the temple's vicinity are strictly vegetarian but the few hotels and privately-run exclusive resorts offer delectable continental multicuisine for the devout foodie.
The fnbworld team visited Pushkar and stayed at Ajmer's famous, biggest and fine luxury Pushkar Resort in Pushkar run by the Sewara Hospitality group. Noticeably, the resort's completion was speeded up at the behest of Kate Winslet as she stayed at this resort in 1998 with the film crew for Holy Smoke that was shot in Rajasthan.
The resort is spread over 15-acres and maintains five-star luxury standards with all of its 40 cottages dotted in a natural setting, fully air-conditioned with 24/7 power backup. It's an ideal nestling place if you are a nature lover or want to meet up with the simple and talented gypsy dancers of Rajasthan in a safe and serene place.
Multilingual Gypsies of Rajasthan
The resort provides a unique blend of an Indian rural landscape and cottages that are extremely modern from inside. Besides, there’s a swimming pool, well kempt gardens, Spa with health club and jacuzzi. It also has a small animal farm in its premises. The well-equipped and hygienic kitchen is highly efficient and serves some of the finest continental, Indian and Rajasthani cuisines. Our Managing Editor Ravi V. Chhabra spoke with the resort’s oldest Indian cuisine Chef Jaswant Singh Rawat:
fnbworld: When and how did you join the hospitality industry?
Chef Rawat: I started my career 15-years back in Goa as a kitchen helper at the Dilli Durbar an a la carte restaurant in Panaji. After a few years, I graduated into becoming a chef! I was interested in the hotel industry since my childhood.
fnbworld: What about the family and your qualifications?
Chef Rawat: My father is a farmer in the village in Garhwal. My brother works in a hotel. I studied till the fifth standard in my village and I am basically a self-taught chef. Cooking is my passion.
fnbworld: When is the peak season in this resort?
Chef Rawat: The peak season begins in October when the Pushkar Cattle Fair commences. That time, we need 10 boys in the kitchen. My prime job then becomes supervising the kitchen.
fnbworld: How many guests have you served from the kitchen at one time?
Chef Rawat: We usually manage around 120 to 150 people at one time in the rush season during the Pushkar cattle fair.
fnbworld: Name a popular non-vegetarian dish from Rajasthan in the menu?
Chef Rawat: People like Lal Maans the most in the non-vegetarian menu. Even Europeans like it. Although it is very spicy, some foreigners love it too.
fnbworld: Which is most popular continental dish at the Pushkar Resort?
Chef Rawat: Even though I am an Indian cuisine chef, I must admit, it is undoubtedly the pastas. We offer a range of these as it suits the continental palate.
fnbworld: Do you prepare anything with the fruits and vegetables grown in the resort’s kitchen gardens?
Chef Rawat: We make ready-to-serve mango juice and some jams with the fruits grown here. Some vegetables are used for daily cooking.
fnbworld: Your personal favorite dish is?
Chef Rawat: I like the humble cauliflower (gobhi) cooked in shahi style.
fnbworld: Is there any special Rajasthani recipe you can tell us?
Chef Rawat: The Lal Maans is a really special and famous non-vegetarian dish of Rajasthan. Let me share the secret recipe with you!
Lal Maas (Red Meat Curry)
Take four to five table-spoons vegetable cooking oil in a pan or wok, heat oil and add khada masaala (raw herbs and spices) comprising whole black pepper, liberal amount of red chilly powder and 4 whole red chiilies, 4 green cardamoms and dal cheeni (cinnamon).
Now, add finely chopped 4 medium sized onions sliced very thin and let onions turn dark brown in color. Then add ½ kg mutton (goat or lamb meat), add 1.2 cup fresh curd and 1 tbsp garlic paste with 2 table spoons garam masala, salt to taste, a pinch of turmeric powder and a pinch of coriander powder.
Let it mix well and ensure it is kept on fire till it blends well with a rich red color. Now add 6 cloves and freshly chopped green coriander and some water and let it boil and mix well till it has a thick consistency. Garnish with chopped green chilies and fresh coriander. It's ready to eat and enough for 2 to 3 people. Ideal to have with Indian breads.