Jaipur, India: Lentils & Lattices

Mahara Jai Singh built the city of Jaipur, in 1727.  In the city, he built the Jantar Mahal, an observatory using astronomical instruments for astrological readings.  It’s now a World Heritage site, and I think you can see why:

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This is a sundial — and it’s really impressive (at about 4 stories high!):

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And it’s also the site of tons of other cool giant sculptures — like this thing that tells you where the sun and earth are: (the cutouts let you get accurate readings)

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Jai Singh’s grandson (Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh) was pretty clever too — he built the red sandstone Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds), where the royal ladies could watch the goings on of the regular folks in the street below, without being seen by the men.  The lattice work is carved into the red sandstone — so pretty!

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And the best part about Jaipur?  The food.  Of course!

We went to this hotel:

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That had this elephant:

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And this beautiful Ganesha:

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And this delicious food — dahl makhani (my favourite: black lentils simmered with cream and butter), veggie curry, and mattar paneer (homemade cottage cheese and peas in a tomato gravy) with steamed basmati rice.

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And a divine naan.  This one had fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves inside.  YUMMM!

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We ate an awful lot of mattar paneer while we were in India, and I have to say, the fresh cheese is soooo delicious!  This will definitely be a recipe popping up on the blog sometime soon, so keep your forks ready.

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Paneer is made by turning fresh milk (often buffalo milk in India) into cheese.  It can then be used in a number of different preparations.  We also had it in a curry along with eggplant, yum:

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Served with gorgeous roasted potatoes with lots of cumin:

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And cauliflower and green pea curry (gobi mattar):

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Along with one of my favourite breads: chapati!

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(If you’re drooling over this chapati, it was truly delicious – and you can make your own Whole Wheat Chapati or make them gluten-free as Chickpea Chapati!)

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And the most local thing we ate in Jaipur? Dal Baati is the most famous Rajasthani dish from the deserts of Rajasthan.  The people of Rajasthan made Dal Baati because you don’t need a lot of water to make them, and they have a really long shelf life and are high in nutrition.  Dal Baati are unleavened balls of whole wheat flour, that you eat by mashing them slightly, then topping them with dal (lentil stew, like this one).

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And then the chefs over there are so clever – they take the leftover baati, and mix it with ghee (clarified butter), sugar, dried fruit, and nuts, and it is called Churma, and served at breakfast.  Delicious!

If you’re into textiles, you can have a lot of fun discovering what Jaipur is famous for: block printing!

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These artisans take long bolts of fabric, and stamp them with natural dyes using small carved blocks.

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Or you can ride an elephant up to the fort on top of the hill:
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That has this hall of mirrors:

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And these gorgeous arches:

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By which point in time, you’ll be ready for another curry!

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Categories: Travel

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3 Comments on “Jaipur, India: Lentils & Lattices”

  1. Katey @ Bonne Santé
    April 24, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    WHOA you went to INDIA?! I’ve been out of this loop for far too long! Everything looks so amazing, vibrant and tasty! Hoping to travel there at the end of the year so appreciating these updates and may have to quiz you more in the future! Looks like everything is turning out just as it is meant to for you 🙂

  2. April 24, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    This is what happens when you don’t have internet 😉

    Glad you’re back in the loop, Katey — I’d be SO happy to chat about India. And yes, life is pretty good over here 🙂 But now I think I need some vibrams for my summerventures!

  3. April 28, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    I really am surprised you came back! I don’t think I could leave all that amazing food behind. Not to mention the stunning architecture. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos and memories it’s like a guided tour. The thing is I don’t think I’d be able to chose where to go! I really want to see Kerala but now you’re tempting me with Rajastan! 😀

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