Foodism

Persian treat, with an Indian touch

JAIPUR

Zarin's opulent interiors transport you a world of camp evening repasts
Zarin’s opulent interiors transport you a world of camp evening repasts and bonhomie

It’s been a cuisine fit for kings. Persia, a fount of ancient civilisations and home to many a great empire over the millennia, has been just as influential in shaping global cuisine. Distinctive for its delicate spicing and delicate flavours, traditional Persian cuisine was a huge influence in the kitchens of the Mughals – from whom it spread to most parts of India.

Of course, restaurants offering Persian in India have been rare. A situation that Zarin, the new Indo-Persian restaurant at the Fairmont in Jaipur, seeks to redress to an extent. A visit to Zarin could transport you to the magnificence of those erstwhile royal dining quarters.

Just as the name – Zarin, literally gold or gilt edged, suggests, the interiors reflect understated luxury, in line with the rest of the hotel. Amidst a colour palate of burnished gold, beige and bronze sparkle the occasional specks of emerald and what else – Persian blue – creating a stunning canvas in this 117 cover restaurant. Note that these are not usual tables and chairs, but instead a central table surrounded by U shaped sofas – provided with cerulean bolsters and gold tassels. Add antique brass tableware, teakwood tables and crystal stemware – and your transformation to

We wanted an international cuisine that would be easier on the Indian palate, Rizwan Shaikh, General Manager, Fairmont Jaipur explains as the choice of cuisine. To balance the varied holidayers to the city and the rather less adventurous local palates finally took the hotel to the region’s rich culinary past.

Expect a blend of the half familiar and the exotic therefore. Shaikh stresses on how an effort was made to create the communal dining experience, an exception example of which is the ‘Emperor’s table’, best compared ballroom dinners of yore.

The atta raan is among the signature dishes at Zarin that  just have to be sampled
The atta raan is among the signature dishes at Zarin that just have to be sampled

As for the meal itself, Executive Chef Manpreet Singh and his team trained in various parts of West Asia over months to get the flavours right. Many of the signature dishes of cuisine find prominent place here such as the Aab Gosht (morsel of lamb cooked with chick peas), Mastava (lamb soup – an Uzbek specialty) and the Tabriz Koftey (chicken dumplings with mixed nuts).

Look out for Iranian Biryanis served along with matzoon (yogurt refreshment) and salad, Atta Raan (leg of lamb wrapped in sour dough), Iranian Haleem (wheat porridge with flavorful meat proteins or vegetables), and Mahi Zameen doz (fresh fish marinated in aromatic Persian spices and gently grilled and then baked). Do not skip the breads – from the Sheermal to the Bakarkhani, Tanaq, Khamiri and Fitri – these traditional breads can satiate the most demanding palate on their own!

Yes, traditional Persians ate veggies too! If the Subz Irani (Persian style vegetable stew) is too like mixed veggies – disabuse yourself – the spicing is entirely different, and you might end up chasing the chef for the recipe! The Nadru ki Gullar (stuffed lotus stem pods) and Kebab Tokri (a flavorful assortment of stir fried vegetables) are sure hits anyways. Spices such as basil, cumin, saffron and cloves stand out in the dishes.

Even if you have ordered ambitiously and tried to do justice, and are groaning as a result by now – do not skip the final round! Especially the Baklawa platters and Badshahi Faluda (vermicelli combined with milk and rose flavouring).

The strains of Kesariya balam playing live in a corner, or a Kathak performance, live again, may not be to everyone’s taste though! Instead look for terrace seating on a balmy evening as you could be part of a magical Jaipur sunset! It’s a dinner only restaurant for now and should cost about Rs 1,500 per person if you tuck in!

The much delayed opening of the restaurant is now assuaged by the knowledge that a visit to Jaipur will be incomplete with Zarin!

Suman Tarafdar

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