Chef Jodha’s Royal Repast

The ethnic chic ambience of the Bistro Desert Rose in WelcomHotel Jodhpur, was the perfect setting for our late afternoon lunch date with chef Akshraj Jodha.
The lighting at our table was deemed not ideal for food photography though.  So we worked out a solution where Iphone photographer Jack Hollingsworth’s meal was first served at a two seater setting by the window and brought back to our larger table after he – and I – were done photographing it! Having photographer dining companions eliminated any likelihood of my diving into my meal and forgetting to capture it on camera like I usually do!
ITC Hotel Jodhpur India
Chef Jodha’s contemporary interpretation of classical Rajasthani cuisine merited all the hoopla.  The substantial six course menu began with Makka Raab: a corn and yogurt soup served with coconut pearls, that was a refined take on the humble Kadhi.
 Chef Jodha's Feast - Course 1
I don’t generally eat red meat but the melt in the mouth smoked lamb cubes in the Maand Bootan, served in kitschy mini cookers, left me craving more. The accompanying Subz Kalmi (Vegetable kebabs) with varq (edible silver) and garlic pearls was equally flavourful.
 ITC Hotel Jodhpur
 –
Chatpati Machhi – a delicately grilled cheese stuffed sea bass served with balsamic pearls and grape emulsion – was an absolute standout, and was unequivocally voted the star of the show.
Chef Jodha's Feast - Course 3
The full thali that followed did local culinary traditions proud. Although I would have personally preferred fewer, stylised components.
 –
Clockwise from left: Baati (Traditional flour pastry filled with dhal), Gatta Tart (Chickpea flour tarts) filled with Ker Sangri, Dhania Murgh (Chicken morsels cooked with corriander seeds), Pithod Saubzi (Cooked gramflour and yoghurt cut into diamond shapes), Laal Maans (Lamb cooked in yoghurt and chili gravy), Dal Panchmel (Mélange 0f five lentils seasoned with asafoetida) Missi Roti (Chickepea flour bread) Bajra Roti (Millet bread)
Clockwise from left: Baati (Traditional flour pastry filled with dhal), Gatta Tart (Chickpea flour tarts) filled with Ker Sangri (Dried desert beans), Dhania Murgh (Chicken morsels cooked with corriander seeds), Pithod Saubzi (Cooked gramflour and yoghurt cut into diamond shapes), Laal Maans (Lamb cooked in yoghurt and chili gravy), Dal Panchmel (Mélange 0f five lentils seasoned with asafoetida) Missi Roti (Chickepea flour bread) Bajra Roti (Millet bread)
 Chef Jodha's Feast - Course 5
 –
Hand churned rose ice-cream made for a wonderfully refreshing desert. I ended up ordering it in-room the following two days in a row! The multicoloured accompaniments seemed to me like ‘pearl’ overkill, but Jack discarded his ice-cream and created art with them!
 –
Chef Jodha's Royal Feast - Course 6
The ‘royal’ feast ended with (edible) silver coated chocolate medallions dipped and slowly stirred into a piping hot – and luridly green – mint liqueur concoction…..a dramatic and surprisingly delicious finale!
Many thanks to WelcomHotel Jodhpur and chef Akshraj Jodha for this memorable dining experience.
 

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

54 thoughts on “Chef Jodha’s Royal Repast

  1. Uff! I’m not sure if I’m more in love with your photographs or the whole ‘narrative experience’. Adding this to my ever growing ‘must-visit’ list.

    1. It was Bente. I have been disappointed by fusion food often, but it seemed to work well in this instance.

  2. Oh Madhu, you tortured my stomach with those mouthwatering photos! 🙂 I really love the way you captured the dishes.

    1. Thank you Bama. I rarely remember to capture fancy meals. I am a bit embarrassed to pull out my camera in a posh restaurant as well. This was good practice for San Sebastian! 🙂

  3. Food photography is a true challenge. You’ve done it well, especially like the memories evoked by the hand-churned ice cream that reminds me of family reunions of the past.

    1. Glad this stirred childhood memories Sally. The ice-cream, not surprisingly,was a particular favourite 🙂

    1. Not to offend chef Jodha, but I think I like those chairs even more than the meal Suzanne!! 😀 The neatly patchworked upholstery especially.

        1. Ha, while I hope you do realise this comment was made in jest, I suspect that designer upholstery might be hard to source even in Jodhpur :/

  4. Madhu your post is the ultimate experience – great food shots and the narrative made for most perfect read!

  5. That looks like pure food art, Madhu, and although I don’t use the word very often, that last dessert is downright decadent. Any food that is covered in a precious metal could be considered that, I think. 🙂

    1. Thank you Stewart. Edible silver is very commonplace in India. You will find it smeared on every kind of sweet and rich savoury curries. And not necessarily in fancier places. That said, this meal was certainly decadent. A good wine pairing would have made it even more so 🙂

  6. I come from a long line of chefs in my family, and there is the constant debate over where to spend one’s time and artful talent. Some members of my tribe complain that the focus is the taste and that too many chefs spend too much time showing masterful technique in presentation and not enough in the flavor department. Knowing this to be a challenge, I am always overwhelmingly impressed with people who can balance the two without compromise.
    By the looks of the photographs, you had yourself a most memorable meal. I nearly licked the screen with the temptation it promised to provide.
    Regardless, Madhu, your essay and photos are wonderfully enticing.
    Cheers!

    1. I am all for flavour over presentation Shelley. I appreciate the bare interiors of newer restaurants in Europe where focus is mainly on the cooking. In India there is a perception that fancy is best, but I think it is changing slowly with exciting young chefs trying to break the mold. Thank you for your lovely visit and comment. Have a fabulous weekend!

    2. I do very basic and authentic food, i do not play around with the texture and the taste of the food only try to make them look more appealing and presentable and play with lot of natural colors, infact i make my own platters so that i can relate the food i am serving.

      1. And the proof is in the eating chef Jodha. Just to be clear, the above conversation was a generic discussion and not a critique of your cooking style! Scroll through the comments and you will see how many times I have mentioned that your fusion worked for me, and I am not easy to please 🙂

  7. I’m drooling now and I had a milder case of food poisoning yesterday – that’s the power of your description (both in image and in words). How do you manage to keep your figure I wonder.

    1. You have no idea how much weight I have gained in the past year Paula. But that doesn’t stop me from indulging in an occasional good meal (read dessert) 😀

  8. A truly mouth-watering post, Madhu. Having another photographer there does take out the embarrassment of snapping pictures at meal times – and even more so if you are a perfectionist like me! Everything looks and sounds divine (especially that rose ice cream), though I am not so convinced about the syringe and the proliferation of pearls. It certainly doesn’t help that the syringe looks identical to the one we use to feed our dog her medicine! 😀

    But what do I know, maybe I am old-fashioned for preferring food that is heartier and a little less polished.

  9. You never ate ALL that, Madhu? Just the sea bass would have done me nicely 🙂 Shame the chairs weren’t ‘take away’ 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos! Food photography is so much fun…as long as you remember to take the photo before diving in, wherein lies my problem most of the time 🙂

  11. Madhu, did you say thali? 🙂 Ever since our month in India, we’ve been greatly missing them. It is the Makka Raab and its coconut pearls that’s most captured my attention though. The Rose Ice Cream also looks worthy of your decision to order multiple helpings.

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