Mewari Cuisine - The Traditional Khana In Udaipur
Image Credit: An authentic mewari spread at Traditional Khana/ Sidharth Bhan Gupta

Who hasn't heard about the beautiful heritage of Rajasthan? A land of kings and their prosperous kingdom has witnessed the exciting history of the Rajputana clan. Among various folklores of wars, sacrifices and bravery also lie their glorious culinary history, which has proven to be the finest specimen of their unparalleled glory over centuries.

Rajasthan is divided into nine regions. The region of Mewar, which lies in the south-central part of Rajasthan, has a good repertoire of traditional dishes. Udaipur is the most prominent culinary centre of Mewar. It is not discounting the heritage-rich areas of Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Pratapgarh, and other regions of Mewar.

The palaces of Udaipur and its royal residents take pride in their culture and culinary heritage. The people of Mewar are enthusiastic about their great gastronomical prowess. Throughout Udaipur, you will find traditional restaurants serving the excellent cuisine of Mewar. However, you should not miss this beautiful restaurant at Panchvati Circle, ‘Traditional Khana’.

Built like a traditional Haveli of Mewar, the restaurant was painstakingly developed by the Kothari Family, who owns one of the biggest Havelis in the old city of Udaipur. To represent the outstanding cuisine of Mewar was their dream, and with ‘Traditional Khana’, they are fulfilling it; and how?

As soon as we entered the restaurant, the décor and the setting impressed us. We saw Indians and foreigners eating the food served on biodegradable thalis made of leaves using their bare hands. As we sat down on our big comfortable chairs and the service began, the manager told us that eating the traditional way was the only way to enjoy the fantastic cuisine served at ‘Traditional Khana’. Mighty impressive and logical! A meal as authentic as this must be enjoyed thoroughly, and being a lover of traditional cuisines of India, I can vouch that there is no better satisfaction than enjoying food with our fingers.

It started with ‘Rose sherbet’, local produce! The nearby town of Haldighati grows a unique product called the ‘Chaitri Gulab’ only during the month of Chait (March-April). Various indigenous products are made using it, including the colourless and flavourful Rose sherbet. After such a fantastic start, we were looking forward to our meal with great excitement.

Soon arrived the chutneys; ‘Lahsun Chutney’, Pudina Chutney’, ‘Saunth’ and ‘Amchoor Chutney’, which were to be enjoyed as an accompaniment to the following variety of delicious dishes of Mewar.

Panchkuta Sabji

Panchkuta sabji is a mix of 5 main ingredients ‘Ker’, ‘Sangri’, ‘Gunda’, ‘Kumat’ and ‘Amchoor’. This traditional dish of Rajasthan is also commonly known as’ Ker- Sangri’. It is a delicacy often used to carry along during travels as it can keep well for days without refrigeration.

100 Ukaale ki Kadi 

This fantastic ‘Kadhi’ of Mewar takes many hours to cook, and as the name suggests, the pot full of Kadhi is boiled 100 times to get its desired consistency and flavour. This Buttermilk- based dish has a delicious tempering of ‘Heeng’, and Curry leaves infused to provide it with its addictive taste.

Chakki ki Sabji 

This was another highlight of the meal; ‘Chakki ki sabzi’ is a glutenous curry made from whole wheat and has a unique texture, similar to mock meat.

Dal Baati Churma 

The showstopper of any traditional meal in Mewar is the ‘Dal Baati’. Huge’ baatis’ are made from flour and cooked slowly on an open fire to get their crumbly texture. ‘Desi ghee’ is generously poured over and served with traditional Rajasthani dal, and the region’s favoured sweet called ‘Churma’ makes for an exciting meal combination.

“Each ‘baati’ can weigh up to 2.5-3 kgs and is then divided into smaller pieces to be served to the guests”, Harshit Singh Kothari, the enterprising owner of the traditional khana restaurant, shared.

The servers explained the right way to eat Dal Baati; they instructed us to pour all the curries and dal over the hand-crushed baati and then to enjoy each bite of the mix with a different chutney. We started with the ‘Lahsun Chutney’ and, one by one, enjoyed the rest to get the whole rollercoaster experience of mewari flavours on our palate.

Jakolma Poori

‘Only three people in Rajasthan prepare these soft pooris called Jakolma Poori’, claims Harshit Singh Kothari as he answers my query about this unique fried bread. These pooris are unlike anything I have tasted before. Diametrically large pooris are made of coarsely ground refined flour (Maida) and cut into small pieces. It is best enjoyed with ‘Chana Dal’ and ‘Amchoor chutney’, and we obediently followed the instructions and could not stop bingeing over the delicious combination.

Besides the Traditional Khana Restaurant, Lala Mishthan Bhandaar on Jagdish Road is famous for its Jakolma Poori.

Gatte Ki Sabzi

A delicacy enjoyed throughout Rajasthan is soft and spiced gram flour roundel cooked in a curd-based spicy and sour curry. To cook ‘Gatte ki sabzi’ is a skilful job, where a perfect dough is kneaded and boiled like a roulade, then cut into small coin-sized pieces. Curry was flavourful and paired perfectly with the ‘pooris’ and hot ‘rotis’.

Smoked Chaach

Throughout this fantastic dining experience at traditional khana, the wonderful smoked ‘Chaach’ played a perfect companion. Every sip of the delicious spiced and smoked buttermilk elevated the culinary experience. The smokiness adds a unique edge to the beverage, with the flavourful tempering giving the ‘Chaach’ its authentic taste.

Irresistibly delicious ‘Churma Ladoo’ and ‘Besan ki Chakki’ were served as dessert, rounding up the meal. There wasn’t much space left in our stomachs. However, the cravings to try more of this delicious spread were still kicking us to eat a bit more. We overate but did not regret it, as such an authentic spread and traditional dining experience do not come every day.

The region of Mewar has a repertoire of traditional dishes, and we were lucky to experience a fine showcase of the cuisine at this fantastic restaurant, ‘Traditional Khana’. When in Udaipur, you must head to the ‘Panchvati circle’ and indulge in this gastronomic extravaganza and the grand cuisine of Mewar.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta is a Hospitality/F&B Consultant travelling across India exploring regional cuisines.