JAIPUR: After carving out a niche for itself in the high-end wedding market with its river of opulence meandering in the Aravalli hills, Fairmont Jaipur is now focusing on food innovation to expand the vegetarian platter in its restaurants.
Apart from the lobby lounge and a library-bar where one can sip the selected choice of premium scotch whiskeys or fine wines while reading a book or watching the best of Charlie Chaplin films, the 200-room palace boasts of a “Zoya” multi-cuisine restaurant, the “Asmaa” rooftop restaurant and “Zarin”, the current nursery of experimentation with Persian cuisine.
“Over the years we have realised that being in Rajasthan and having a menu that tips the balance in favour of non-vegetarian dishes could be a disadvantage. Therefore, we are re-launching the Zarin menu with a fairly elaborate vegetarian platter inspired by Persian delicacies which are mostly meat-based,” said Deepak Sharma, Assistant Director, Food and Beverages.
The reasons for introducing a premium Persian restaurant at a luxury hotel in Jaipur are many, explained General Manager Rizwan Shaikh.
“First of all, at a palace like this, I cannot expect to make a mark by selling pizzas and burgers. I need to offer something which is rare and yet has a very rich tradition. Therefore, we decided to revive the lost glory of Persian culinary culture in India,” Shaikh noted.
“Secondly, the Persian cuisine suits the palate of our core clientele who come from the Middle East and Hong Kong and the Non-Resident Indians from places across the world. But considering the growing popularity of our food and beverage services among the people in and around Jaipur, we have now decided to add a number of vegetarian dishes in the Zarin menu,” he added.
Subz Irani (Persian style vegetable stew), nadru ki gullar (stuffed lotus stem pods) and kebab tokri (a flavourful assortment of stir fried vegetables) are some of the offerings tailor-made to tickle the taste buds of the distinguished vegetarian diners.
One of the reasons people have warmed to the offerings is that the Persian cooking style is very similar to that of Indian cuisine, Executive Sous Chef Deepak Gurung, who steered the opening of the restaurant, elucidated.
In fact, Indian cuisine has evolved through centuries; a result of amalgamation of various cultures. And considering the ancient Indo-Persian connection, the distinct contribution of Persian culture on Indian cuisine is only obvious.
“But Persian food is not spicy in nature, its taste is very subtle,” Gurung explained.
He pointed out that as Persian dishes are primarily non-vegetarian, they had to innovate a few dishes in creating the vegetarian menu.
“For example, we have developed a vegetarian haleem. In preparing it, we do not dilute the preparation process much but replace meat with soya and other vegetables which are primarily used in Persian cuisine,” Gurung explained.
This doesn’t mean the non-vegetarians have been given the go-by.
From sheermal and bakarkhani – traditional breads — and preparations of aab gosht (succulent morsel of lamb cooked with chick peas), mastava (a hearty lamb soup – an Uzbek specialty) and tabriz koftey (juicy chicken dumplings with mixed nuts), meat lovers are spoiled for choice.
However, it is not in innovation in food alone that the hotel stands out. In fact, the whole Fairmont Jaipur property is a child of innovation. The four-year-old imposing building seamlessly integrates the Rajputana décor with the majesty of Mughal architecture, offering guests a distinct blend of modernity and tradition.