As Scrumptious as the Taj!

So good to be back! I had a hectic 2 weeks away from home, and I think I need a vacation from my vacation! Jokes aside, I’ve had many food experiences that I’m exited to share. But I’m not going to save the best for last. Lets get straight to the gastronomic gem I discovered in the city of the architectural gem – Agra.

One of the many events during my sister’s extended wedding celebrations was something called a Pattal ki Dawat. Literally translated it means “ A feast served on a Leaf Plate”. But as my friend Shraddha so rightly put it –   “The taste that seeps in from the pattal is unparalleled!”

 

This is how it goes… The table setting is a fascinating assembly line, that gives fast food a whole new meaning. Since it’s a sit down dinner service, there is a limited number of seating…approximately 40-50 people at one go. The long tables are lined with rolls of chart paper, where the used pattals are rolled up and removed and subsequently fresh paper is rolled back on for the next set of guests.

The servers then put the pattals in front of you, with empty bowls for the curries. Then there is a beautiful pre-plated terracotta condiments bowl, with a mix of chutneys, a spicy salad and a sweet mango pickle.

Then come the desserts! Yes, the desserts are served first in this traditional meal(not that i’m complaining!) There was an adorable little mini ghewar, a perfectly sweetened mini rasmalai and a mithai I’d never seen before– a sort of sandesh wrapped in a thin petha like wrap! Then came the veggies…yes the meal is all vegetarian. There were the regular peas curry and potato curry – all yummy. But the dry mixed vegetable was made super interesting with the addition on cherries. On the far side of the photo, you see a curry in a bowl. That was the yummiest yogurt based gravy I’ve ever had with soft fluffy dumplings in them(kind of like the boondi we have in a raita). And of course there was dahi bada as well.

The servings are unlimited, andeven though we could have gone on eating, we decided to let the next lot of guests savor the food. And of course after eating the meal I realized why the desserts are served before the meal. The food in Agra is particularly spicy, but it’s so tasty that you can’t stop. So the mithai just helps you along.

If you need some more smothering, there is kadhai ka doodh. Milk that is thickened over a fire in a kadhai with loads of dry fruits and slightly sweetened. And the best part, the kulhars its served in!

I tried to capture the showmanship of the man serving the milk, but its much cooler in real life!

So next time you’re in Agra see the Taj and my favorite Fatehpur Sikri, but try to score an invite to a Pattal Ki Dawat. For me…it was as mind-blowing as the Taj!

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