When the table was long, dressed like a state banquet and the royal family was the host and the venue was Embassy of Belgium in Delhi—it was a treat for the stomach and the heart.

Dine with Royalty, organised by EatwithIndia.com, Embassy of Belgium, Delhi. Table for the Deolia Kalan meal
Dine With Royalty organised by EatwithIndia.com, Embassy of Belgium, Delhi. Table for the Deolia Kalan meal

When the Dine With Royalty event was announced, I didn’t think I was going to be a part of it. But the organizers Sonal Saxena and Shantanu Mohanta, who run eatwithIndia.com, didn’t forget. From October 26-29, the gardens of the embassy were filled with lights, laughter, music, food and glamourous men and women.

With tents designated for each of 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. Lavishness has been the norm for the royals, but this was a more humble dinner where they interacted with all kinds from all walks of life. The recipes for most them were hundreds of years old, kept a secret and reached the mouths of a select few. But over the period of time, there was an evolvement with spices and changing lifestyles. They have evolved but the flavours remain intact.

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There were veg and non-veg starters, thali and desserts. The 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. Even a little helping was a bit on the heavier side, sinful but surely a must have. (see the picture of the menu for details of the ingredients). This dessert is always served on all auspicious occasions, I came to know later. Drinks had been served outside in the garden where sufi music filled the slightly nippy air.

Royal family of deoli kalan
Deolia Kalan royal clan and me

While the current and 14th Rao Saheb Laxman Singh sat on one side of the table, his wife Rani Gajendra Kumari sat on the other end with her daughter-in-law Vijeta Kumari. Overwhelmed with the attention, and perhaps the questions, the gentle Rani said that the most popular dish in their home was ‘matki maas’. And one thing that could always be found their homes was achaar. The couple is constantly on the move between Deolia Kalan and their sons’ homes in Jodhpur and Udaipur. “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 were offered here.” 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.

The graceful Rani Gajendra Kumari and her daughter-in-law Vijayata Kumari
The graceful Rani Gajendra Kumari and her daughter-in-law Vijeta Kumari

Deolia Kalan is situated near Ajmer, Rajasthan, India, and the major languages here are Rajasthani, Hindi and Urdu. Though I should have taken more information on the princely state, but then to know it, isn’t it better to plan a visit?

Note: Participating royal families were:

  • Aaron and Myana Royal Family
  • Amarkot Royal Family
  • Awadh Royal Family
  • Badnore Royal Family
  • Balasinor Royal Family
  • Bhainsrorgarh Royal Family
  • Bedla Royal Family
  • Bhopal Royal Family
  • Bolangir Royal Family
  • Deolia Kalan Royal Family
  • Jhabua Royal Family
  • Jhalamand Royal Family
  • Jodhpur Royal Family
  • Kangra Royal Family
  • Kanota Royal Family
  • Kishangarh Royal Family
  • Kotwara Royal Family
  • Limbdi Royal Family
  • Loharu Royal Family
  • Mahmudabad Royal Family
  • Nimaj Royal Family
  • Patiala Royal Family
  • Raghogarh Royal Family
  • Rampur Royal Family
  • Sandur Royal Family
  • Santrampur Royal Family
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