We love to taste a place as much as we love to see it. We love the aromas and textures.
A country’s cuisine is part of its story and vital to our experience.
But we want to reduce as much as possible the chances of, well, repercussions.
And so, it was my decision that meals should be included in our Travel Club Tour of India. I want my friends — our guests — to enjoy some Indian cuisine but at specific places.
And saying all this immediately brings a strong memory for me.
When I walk into the Amber Fort in Jaipur, the night is velvet dark and the place is lit up. It is almost empty. I walk across the courtyard and into what was the Maharajas’ dining room.
This is now 1135 Restaurant in the fort ... a gilt, glass wonder that echoes the history of this place.
It is an extraordinary and exclusive place for dinner.
North Indian cuisine is more of the Mughal style, and in Jaipur, chef Ashish Bhasin explains this. He traces the big, round clay ovens to Mughal armies. Soldiers marinated meat, carried it with them and dug ovens in the ground to cook wherever they were at night, so that there was no firelight to give them away.
They skewered the meat on their arrows to place vertically in the ground. The first kebabs, the chef tells me.
But, of course, throughout India there are vegetarian options. Being “veg” or “non- veg” is as much religious, philosophical and political as it is a choice of dishes.
And on our Travel Club Tour of India, which we have organised in collaboration with our trusted expert friends at Holiday Planet, there will be other culinary moments:
- In Jaipur, the Rajput Room in the Rambagh Palace Hotel and Cinnamon at the Taj Jai Mahal Palace.
- In Agra, Peshawari at ITC Mughal, a speciality restaurant, and the surprising Taj Bano Coffee Shop.
- On the way to Udaipur, there’s lunch at a favourite spot — Deogarh Mahal.
- In Udaipur, Upre by 1559AD and World Cuisine at The Leela... and others, of course.
And in the markets, there are spices and herbs. The scents of India...
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