Jul 18, 2016
Jaipur is a beautiful mix of old and new, traditional and modern, ornate and effortless. To me, the city reflects the essence of India – centuries of history and culture. The proof of which lies in the artisanal products made with techniques passed down for generations. With modern and organic food movements, it’s an exciting or a rather testing time for the existing food scene.
If you are planning a trip to the Pink City, experience it like a true local, at restaurants that offer the best of both worlds. The places I’ve chosen are a reflection of some of the best local foods like kachoris and lassi and some modern like a big plate of greens and Japanese green tea!
Rawat Mishthan Bhandar
If you haven’t been exposed to Rajasthani food, then Rawat Mishthan Bhandar and Lassiwala are probably the best places to begin your foray into the local food scene. Everyone in Jaipur knows Rawat; it is synonymous with Jaipur’s famous pyaaz kachori, a crisp pastry filled with spiced potato and lightly caramelised onions. Pick it up on the go or sit at the basic yet hygienic restaurant that is also known for sweets and other deep-fried indulgences.
Lassiwala at MI Road – Panch Batti Chowk
For lassi lovers, this place is heaven. As is typical of local favourite spots in India, the small storefront has no frills and no seating. The street is crowded with imitators; you know the real one by its number (312) and name on the board (Kishan Lal Govind Narian Agarwal ). Served in a kulhad or earthen pot, what distinguishes Lassiwala’s lassi from the others is the thick layer of malai that you taste before the icy rush. They are often sold out by the afternoon so get there early or take it to go if you’re in a hurry.
The newly-opened Baradari is set in a beautiful courtyard at City Palace, so you can stop by after visiting the old palace. The exposed original stone walls of the palace paired with the über European feel of the marble tables and monochrome geometric flooring completes the luxurious fine dining feel here.
Branded as a contemporary Rajasthani and international cuisine restaurant, Baradari has an eclectic and expansive menu. For those who want to eat local, their take on traditional fare is fresh – mozzarella kachoris with a beetroot yoghurt dip and tomato salsa; traditional thali platters with bajra khichdi, sautéed spinach, seasonal vegetables; and the time-honoured and much-loved Rajasthani laal maas (mutton curry). In terms of the Italian and Mediterranean food on offer, your options are extensive too with everything from spaghetti aglio olio to mushroom barley risotto to mezze platters.
Tip: I recommend going at night to enjoy Baradari’s ambience and Jaipur’s breezy evenings.
Tapri Tea House
This warm and cozy teahouse makes you wish there was one in your city too. What sets Tapri apart from any old café? Their dedication to tea. It is evident from the hourglass sand timers that tell you how long to steep the leaves for and the funny yet informative menu that has something for every person and mood.
A tea lover’s paradise, Tapri has possibly every kind on offer: milk teas with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, rose, tulsi; herbal, fruit and flower teas; black Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey; Oolong teas; green teas ranging from Chinese to Japanese; white teas; iced teas, et al.
In addition, they serve coffee, other beverages and a variety of food. From 7:30 am on, you can choose from a full vegetarian breakfast spread with dishes like tofu bhurji, poha, parathas and eggless pancakes with nutella. The menu continues with street food like samosas, sev puri, bhel puri to a whole section based on Maggi noodles to pizzas, pastas and of course toast with variations.
The rooftop spot with a view of Jaipur’s Central Park is the place to spend an afternoon, perfect for connoisseurs or even just a picky group of people with different tastes.
When you’ve had too many kachoris and need something light, healthy and refreshing, visit Anokhi Café. Possibly my favourite restaurant in all of Jaipur, Anokhi Café’s emphasis on local, organic, farm-fresh food shines through in their menu and ingredients. They have their own unique ordering system: all the dishes are displayed (so you can see what you’ll actually be served), place your order at the counter and it is sent out fresh from the kitchen.
The menu is all vegetarian with salads, soups, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, dips and more on offer (with a few vegan options as well). Must-order items on the menu: hummus with wholewheat pita bread, falafel sandwich, eggplant-pesto pizza, salad with fig, olive tapenade and feta, carrot cake and walnut tart. Their farm-grown organic mixed greens and spinach, which come as a side to most dishes, are the freshest and tastiest I’ve ever come across in India.
Tip: The small but comfortable café is almost always packed with locals and travellers alike. Walk around and window-shop at Anokhi or Crossword downstairs if there is a long wait.
The author recently moved back to India after studying at the University of Michigan and working at Goldman Sachs in New York. She shares recipes and travel tips on her blog The India Edition.