An atmospheric combination of lakes and deserts, Rajasthan is the perfect place to experience exquisite restaurants, local delicacies and gastronomic delights. The cuisine been influenced by both the traditional warrior lifestyles of its inhabitants and the scarce availability of ingredients in this mostly arid region. Here are ten of our favourite restaurants in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur that reflect Rajasthan’s beauty and culture.
At the beautiful Jai Mahal Palace in Jaipur, the rich Indian ambience of the decor complements the region’s elegant cuisine. Cinnamon takes its visitors on a regal culinary journey as the Chef presents a repertoire of delicacies once prepared in the royal kitchens of Rajasthan. Derived from the martial lifestyle of Rajasthan’s warrior kings, Rajasthani cuisine has distinctive dishes and flavours. The royal Rajasthani thali is a delicious offering of a starter, salad, curries, vegetables, rice, Indian bread and accompaniments, topped off with a delectable Indian dessert: a meal fit for a king and his guests. Here, all dishes can be customised, as the restaurant’s chef is happy to create wonderful masterpieces that allude to Rajasthani heritage.
Suvarna Mahal at Rambagh Palace serves one of the best thali spreads in the pink city. The appetisers include vegetable kebabs and barbecued lamb, while the dessert menu boasts rich malpuas (deep-fried pancakes) and rasmalais (cottage cheese balls in sweet cream). For a unique romantic dining experience, guests can choose between dining in their own private jharokha with flaming torches and a whiff of desert breeze, or the marble arches at the baradari, lit with an ocean of candles and surrounded by the lush palace gardens. In either case, Suvarna Mahal provides an intimate setting for a memorable evening against the backdrop of the illuminated palace.
At the breathtaking Raas Hotel, Jodhpur’s first boutique hotel, the terrace of Darikhana offers magnificent views of the Mehrangarh Fort, which glows pink in the day and is gloriously illuminated at night, providing the perfect backdrop for a romantic meal. A modern and contemporary space with a solid background of tradition, Darikhana serves fragrant dishes which sizzle with the aromas of hand-ground Old Delhi spices, specially selected from a 200-year old shop hidden in the warren of Old Delhi. With many of the ingredients sourced from local farmers, the seasonal vegetables, salads and herbs are home-grown in Raas’ own organic garden.
Risala specialises in serving a blend of imaginative and sumptuous continental and Indian cuisines. Outside the windows, guests will find spectacular views of the gardens, the blue city and the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, while the interior of the restaurant is adorned with royal and martial portraits. Risala, which translates as ‘cavalry’, celebrates the acclaimed victory of the Jodhpur Lancers against the Turks at Haifa in 1918. The menu consists of many recipes authenticated by time and honoured by the royal kitchens of Maharaja, and guests can relax while savouring a handpicked selection of imported and domestic wines.
Also nestled within the grounds of Umaid Bhawan Palace one can find the highest dining point in Jodhpur, the Sunset Pavilion. Guests are taken to an upper deck in a 1940s elevator with carved wood interiors, and the journey continues through the Whispers Gallery, where the walls feature unique and otherwise unseen images of the Royal Family, hunting traditions, vintage cars, the Jodhpur Flying Club and many others. Once guests reach the dining hall, they are offered a cup of delicious mulled wine to warm up before their sumptuous meal. Decorated entirely with motifs native to Jodhpur city, Sunset Pavilion serves royal barbecue and international grills. The menu was created by Chef Jitender Bhatnagar, who also ensures that presentation is both creative and immaculate.
In the ever-changing city of Jodhpur, Latitude is a treat for the senses, as it fuses rich flavours and aromas with the sound of live cooking and artistic displays. The traditional design and stylish decor make Latitude a lively scene, always abuzz with the hum of conversation. Chic splashes of colour, trendy furnishings, an informal atmosphere and an artsy approach to food presentation set the tone. Food stations with chefs cooking right in front of the guests accompany the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, where the Jodhpuri dahi kebab is an unmissable treat. This mix of energy and style makes Latitude one of the best places to sample Rajasthani favourites served with a modern twist, accompanied by live music and a sense of tradition.
In a beautiful 18th century retreat set in the picturesque Aravalli hills of Rajasthan, sits a multi-cuisine restaurant, Devi Garh, which aims to serve up a range of authentic home-cooked flavours. The venue features intimate spaces under the stars, with a wide array of flowers and candles flickering in mirrored walls, where generous meals can be enjoyed to the gentle sound of flowing water or a view of the moonlit mountain peaks. The culinary arts are, of course, an integral element of the experience: the authentic flavours of chaat expose guests to a quintessential aspect of Indian cuisine, street food prepared by expert chefs. Live jal tarang and flute recitals in the background make the dining experience at Devi Garth not just a culinary, but also a cultural feast.
One of the places to be in Udaipur, trendy Upré is a fabulous new restaurant with a decidedly aquatic twist, situated on the terrace of Lake Pichola Hotel. With a view looking over the magnificent City Palace, Lake Palace, the temples, the bathing ghats and embankments, Upre offers its guests the chance to dine while gazing across Udaipur’s historic skyline. East meets West on the menu, where classic European cuisine gets a creative Indian makeover, offering a mouth-watering array of delicacies to capture and remember.
As the sun sets over Lake Pichola, romance begins to fill the air at Sheesh Mahal. This alfresco fine-dining restaurant at the new Leela Palace Udaipur is full of delightful little touches: pouches of spices to freshen the air, scented candles and flowers. Few places stay as romantic while serving up a fantastically spicy lal maas (a local mutton creation) as Sheesh Mahal. Patrons can dine under the stars with a soft breeze to take them on a journey of exquisite Indian flavours and traditional ceremonies. The evening glow of glittering candles in multicoloured hues adds a resplendent touch to this already royal restaurant. Sheesh Mahal’s chefs elevate fine dining to a whole another level with their mix of authentic styles and contemporary nuances.
The Trio, with its open walls and thin cotton sheets providing a welcome breeze and views of the town and the Maharaja’s palace, is Jaisalmer’s top restaurant, and one of the best in Rajasthan. In the Golden City, The Trio attempts to portray an old-world regal charm when the Maharajas still ruled, and Jaisalmer was an important stop on the main trade route from East to West. The chef brings interesting variations to signature Rajasthani dishes; succulent strips of chicken stir-fried with shredded vegetables is one not to miss.