If there is one city in India that has redefined royal hospitality, it has to be Udaipur, the city that is also known for its enchanting lakes and magnificent palaces. Historically, Udaipur was the capital city of the kingdom of Mewar and was home to the Rajput royal family. So it is imperative that the cuisine and food of such a city will be reflective of its heritage and culture. In an attempt to experience authentic Rajasthani cuisine, during our trip to Udaipur, we discovered some great food, both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian. In this article, I’ll take you through our unique gastronomical experience in the city and tell you where you can do the same.
Daal Baati Churma
This iconic dish from Rajasthan should feature on every food lover’s bucket list! For those who have not heard of this before, ‘Dal Baati’ is a traditional Rajasthani dish that comprises of balls made out of whole wheat and pulses ground to a paste and then fried to crispy perfection. This is served with a delicious Dal, some Indian-style stir fried veggies and a traditional dessert made out of jaggery, known as the ‘Churma’. The traditional way to eat this dish is by crushing the fried balls, pouring a generous dollop of Ghee on top and mixing it with some Dal. The meal is also typically accompanied by Chhach (spiced buttermilk).
Where to find: Hidden away in a narrow street behind Udaipur’s Vintage Car Museum, Krishna Dal Baati Restaurant is one of the best places to savour this dish. This place quickly became one of our favourite haunts in Udaipur. So much so, we went there for lunch on two consecutive days! The restaurant serves only one dish – The Dal Bati Churma. At INR 250 per person for an unlimited supply of scrumptious food and drinks, this was a steal!
Address: 17, 1st Floor, Jal Darshan Market, Hotel Green View Street, Gulab Bagh Road, Brahmpuri, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
A ‘Thali’ typically refers to a complete meal consisting of an assortment of food items belonging to a specific cuisine. The authentic Rajasthani Thali is also unique in its own way and is a food lover’s delight! Most Thalis come with 3 different types of veggies, dal, pulses, mini samosas or other fried snacks, fried pooris, chapatis & rice, along with a special dessert. All this is served with a refreshing spiced buttermilk to wash down all that guilt! When in Rajasthan, you must make it a point to try one of these meals at least once. Trying a Thali is probably the best way to get a taste of varied local food items at one go.
Where to find: A great place to indulge in an authentic Rajasthani meal is the famous Nataraj Restaurant. Located near the Railway Station, these guys have been the flag bearer of Rajasthani Thalis in Udaipur. You can either choose from their a la carte menu or opt for their Unlimited Vegetarian Thali (INR 250 per thali). Delicious and extremely value for money!
Address: 22-24, City Station Road, Near Railway Station, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Laal Maas is a signature meat dish from the state of Rajasthan and one of our goals during the Udaipur trip was to find the best Laal Maas dish we could. Laal Maas basically consists of juicy, tender pieces of mutton cooked in a thick, spicy, chilli-based gravy. It tastes best with steamed rice that helps to bring down the heat a little bit. If you are a non-vegetarian foodie, Laal Maas is going to become one of your favourite indulgent meat dishes, like it became for us!
Where to find: Tribute Restaurant, located on the banks of Swaroop Sagar Lake turned out to be our best and most favourite find! We can safely claim that we had the best Laal Maas preparation here at Tribute. The ambiance, the service, & most importantly, the delicious food were all on point! The chef, Ramji, who is well-known in the restaurant circles, will ensure you leave with a happy tummy and a happier heart! The food at Tribute, coupled with stunning views of the adjacent lake, is the recipe for a perfect evening out in Udaipur.
Address: 89/B, Behind Monika Complex, Near Ambamata Temple, Rang Sagar, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Breakfast with a view
Udaipur is blessed with stunning lakes surrounded by the Aravalli hills that make for a gorgeous view any time of the day. But nothing beats the clear view in the morning when you can see the surface of the lake glistening in the sunshine and taking on a beautiful shade of blue while the hills in the background add to the aura. A view like this is best enjoyed with a sumptuous breakfast to kick-start the day!
Where to find: Jaiwana Haveli is an old, home-style haveli with a rooftop restaurant overlooking Lake Pichola. We recommend you to visit this restaurant not so much for the food, but for the stunning views it offers early in the morning. What you see above was the view we had from our breakfast table at this quaint little restaurant. Breakfast was simple – bread, eggs, cereals, fresh fruits, parathas etc., but the view more than made up for the lack of an elaborate menu!
Address: Near Jagdish Chowk, 14, Lal Ghat Road, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Dinner date with a view
As the sun sets, Udaipur transforms itself into a glittering city of lights. All the palaces light up the night sky and it is a vision to watch. If you are in Udaipur with your partner, do make use of this opportunity to enjoy a spectacular dinner by side of the famous Lake Pichola, while enjoying unparalleled view of the City Palace. Probably one of the most romantic dinner setups you will ever experience!
Where to go: Located on the western banks of Lake Pichola, Ambrai restaurant offers spectacular views of the City Palace along with great food. We tried their Tandoori Chicken & Masala Papadum (Roasted papadum topped with a tangy mix of chopped onions and tomatoes) for appetizers, & Laal Maas with Tandoori Roti & rice for main course. Even though the service was a bit slow here, the beautiful surroundings kept us completely enamoured!
Address: Amet haveli, Ambamata Scheme – A Rd, Chand Pole, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Pyaaz (Onion) Kachori
When you are in Udaipur and hunger pangs strike at an odd hour, think of giving this famous snack a try – the Pyaaz/Onion Kachori. All locals swear by this dish, which is basically a puff stuffed with a mix of onion and other spices. While you shop around in the old city, this is one guilty pleasure you can consider giving in to and I can promise you won’t regret it. This is the perfect way to really taste local flavours and enjoy your culinary journey through Udaipur.
Where to find: Jagdish Mishtann Bhandar (JMB) is well known across the city for its Onion Kachori and sweets. The Onion Kachori was beyond delicious! Before you leave, also ask for a sample of their Malai Roll, Soan Papdi & Horlicks Barfi and you are sure to walk out with a box of each variety.
Address: No.16, Sarang Marg, Bapu Bazar Road, Surajpole, Jawahar Nagar, Brahmpuri, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001
Eating out in Udaipur is not just an activity. It is a sensory experience of a kind. And the best way to ensure a memorable experience is by eating local. Do try out these dishes mentioned above and I promise you’ll keep coming back for more!
Chandrika is a travel, food and lifestyle blogger and she blogs at www.trippypassports.com. Her constant cravings for wanderlust and the desire to share her travel tales pushed her to break out of her corporate job and take up travel blogging as a full-time profession. Apart from travel and writing, the only other way to restore her sanity is probably by planning for the next trip!