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Posted at: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM; last updated: Feb 10, 2018, 1:47 AM (IST)

Flavours from the royal table

Young entrepreneurs are offering a glimpse into the kitchens of India’s erstwhile royalty
Flavours from the royal table
Sumptuous fare: Regal spread at DWR

KV Prasad

Innovation and imagination is the key to make an enterprise go forward and wrapping it around something as basic as food brings out a flavour that is hard to resist. In a country where institutional memory is scarce and tradition is handed down generations through word of mouth, young entrepreneurs are bringing age-old recipes that filled the kitchens of erstwhile royals to modern-day setting in the form of an imaginative concept called Dine with Royalty (DWR).

At a time when destination weddings and thematic parties are much in demand, the concept is a distinctive venture where the royal households unlock kitchen vaults that prepared dishes sprinkled with exclusively curated spices. Every meal hence turns into a gastronomical delight.

As winter approached, a three-day DWR event was showcased at the residence of Belgian ambassador Jan Lykux and his wife Raka Singh where 36 families from 12 states played host to diners in specially erected tents. Ambassador Lykux says that Belgium is a foodie’s delight and is now planning to take the event to their country this summer.

Providing an edge to the event is the fact that the diners who reserve seats online get to mingle with the members of the erstwhile royal families. The royals walk the guests through the cuisine and different courses on the table. Early birds also get a glimpse of the cooking pots and makeshift kitchens. The package deal is complete with a panel discussion by well-known food critics allowing the families to share the culinary history and nostalgia.

There was food from Badnore in Rajasthan, from where Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore hails. Much of the food from Badnore’s royal kitchen would traditionally be duck and other game meats with goat organ (offal). However, women from the family turned vegetarian mainly because of the influence of Meerabai. At the event, Mrs Badnore personally worked on the delicious spread handpicking the ingredients while their daughter, Divija, worked in silence.

Among the regions showcased at the event were delights from the kitchens of Patiala and Kangra. “Cooking a family recipe is like singing a ghazal. It sounds different each time, but you know the flavour. One of our favourites is Shahi Sabzi Pulao,” Randhir Singh, cousin of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, said while referring to the vegetables with meat arranged in layers. Keeping in mind the current preferences of a health-conscious generation, the preparation is now made with low oil content.

Kangra food, it is said, resembles its culture — homely, rich and intense. The sheer spread reflected the region and was steeped in tradition set by a community of cooks known botis.

The culinary heritage of these families has been preserved and handed down the generations. Dine With Royalty aims to celebrate this rich past and acquaint patrons with it. 

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