Indian cuisine is varied and each region, each home offers something unique. And bringing this uniqueness in friendly environs to travellers and enthusiasts is eatwithindia.com
The USP of eatwithindia is that it breaks away from the traditional restaurant dining experience to a more homely one. The founders, husband-wife Shantanu Mahanta and Sonal Saxena, love food and even with busy lucrative careers decided to give rein to their passion. While Mahanta runs an interior firm, Saxena has a technology company.
Through, eatwithindia, the couple has given ‘athithi devo bhava’ adage a new path. They offer speciality cuisine experiences in homes. They have amateur and professional chefs on board. They can arrange the entire experience, right from the venue to the help and even the cleaning of the premises later.
Each meal comprises starters, a lavish main course and customary dessert complemented with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. “These pop-ups are a way of getting to know the cuisines and culture with warmth and not with a commercial mindset,” says Saxena. “There is more personalised attention and everyone likes food made in home kitchens. The idea is to host around five to 30 people.”
The evening I experienced was an authentic Assamese dinner cooked by 70-year-old Chef Mamon (Gita) Mahanta. She has been cooking since the age of nine and did not think that she would ever do it commercially. But Shantanu Mahanta calls her the inspiration behind eatwithindia, as ‘nothing tasted better than food cooked by my mom’. Yes, Chef Mamon is the founder’s mother!
Between bites of fish curry and joha rice, I came to know that Assam is divided into lower and upper regions with different cuisines. Fermentation is a common way of cooking in the hills and fish is almost a staple diet with the mighty Brahmaputra flowing through the state. Spices are not stir fried in the nrotheastern part of the country and a meal begins with khar, an indigenous soda, and ends with tengo, a sour dish.
What I liked best was the Masor Tenga and Machor Muri Ghonto. The fish was fresh, the spices light and the oil least. Though rice is the staple food, Mahanta had also included luchi, the little fried roti or poori. And this tasted good with a ridge gourd veggie dish and chole. I downed it all with a glass of red wine.
Between bites of fish curry and joha rice, I came to know that Assam is divided into lower and upper regions with different cuisines. Fermentation is a common way of cooking in the hills and fish is almost a staple diet with the mighty Brahmaputra flowing through the state. Spices are not stir fried in this part of the country and a meal begins with khar, an indigenous soda, and ends with tengo, a sour dish. So what I liked best was the Masor Tenga and Machor Muri Ghonto. The fish was fresh, the spices light and the oil least. Though rice is the staple food, Mahanta had also included luchi, the little fried roti or poori. And this tasted good with a ridge gourd veggie dish and chole. I downed it all with a glass of red wine.
The meal ended with homemade coconut ladoos and kheer, made with khoya, milk and rice and decorated with pistachio nuts.
eatwithindia is constantly adding new chefs to its expanding portfolio. The plans include culinary tours and dine-ins with the royalty, along with merchandise such as spices.
Eating Dishes From The Royal Kitchens of Deolia Kalan at Dine With Royalty
EatwithIndia.com organized Dine With Royalty at the Embassy of Belgium, Delhi
The Embassy was brightly lit with tents designated for the 26 royal families who were part of this one-of-its kind experience. Each guest got a card for the royal meal that they had chosen to taste. Most recipes were a secret, and had been guarded for hundreds of years. Despite the evolving palates and lifestyles, the flavours remained intact.
Participating Royal Families From India
- Aaron and Myana 2. Amarkot 3. Awadh 4. Badnore 5. Balasinor 6. Bhainsrorgarh 7. Bedla 8. Bhopal
9. Bolangir 10. Deolia Kalan 11. Jhabua 12. Jhalamand 13. Jodhpur 14. Kangra 15. Kanota 16. Kishangarh
17. Kotwara 18. Limbdi 19. Loharu 20. Mahmudabad 21. Nimaj 22. Patiala 23. Raghogarh 24. Rampur
25. Sandur 26. Santrampur
I was part of the Deolia Kalan dinner. This is located in Ajmer district, Rajasthan. While the current and 14th Rao Saheb Laxman Singh sat at the head of the table, his wife Rani Gajendra Kumari sat on the other end with her daughter-in-law Vijeta Kumari. As ‘matki maas’ and achaar or pickle were the most popular dishes in their home, the guests were treated to this.
The main course thali comprised matki maas, chamki chawal, amla murgh, papad murgh, kaju korma and breads. The dessert to die for was lapsi which is daliya cooked in jaggery and ghee. Later, I came to know that dessert is served on auspicious occasions in the family. “Our normal meal has two dishes, not the number you see here. The latest additions to the dishes have been the dry fruits,” explained the Rani. “But a thali for a guest would have all the dishes that you had for dinner.”
The royal heads are always on the move between Deolia Kalan and their sons’ homes in Jodhpur and Udaipur. Rao Saheb laughingly commented that all the game meats that were once relished are now a thing of the past. Rajasthan being a dry state, it is natural for the people to prefer lentils there. Major languages spoke in Deolia Kalan are Rajasthani, Hindi and Urdu.