Jharokha – Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur – India
When travelling throughout India we finally made it to Udaipur, and I was excited because we were staying at the iconic Taj Lake Palace featured in such films as the one and only James Bond’s ‘Octopussy’. This place is truly remarkable. It is a marble palace that was built in 1743 and is sitting in the middle of a lake. It gives the illusion that it is floating on water and the only transportation to the palace is by boat. It boasts some of the most magnificent architecture I’ve ever seen and the entire building is magical. There is a price tag to match this level of wonderment, but the staff are professional, the rooms are beautiful and it truly is a 5-star experience all round.
The first night we were there, after being showered upon arrival by rose petals and receiving a free upgrade to a stunning marble terrace room, we decided to dine at the multi-cuisine restaurant Jharokha. It was eloquently decorated and our seats had a view of the City Palace through the night sky. It was really damn romantic.
Our waiter was prompt and helped guide us through the menu and the available options. I decided to go for the traditional Indian Mutton Curry with Rajasthani Rice and Local Pickles made from ingredients only found in Rajasthan. My wife went for the pasta. After ordering we were presented with fresh Indian Breads and an accompaniment of sauces.
The breads were a great way to get us ready for the main event. They were fresh and satisfying. Before too long our mains arrived and I dove right into my mutton that was divine. It was tender and fell apart with every bite. The curry that smothered each and every piece was rich in flavour and spice. There was some serious bite, but I specifically asked for it to be hot. They did not disappoint. Many restaurants are afraid to serve things spicy or rare or done right, but Jharokha didn’t shy away from any heat. The spice was not overpowering though, and the dish was still rich in Indian flavour. The fluffy rice rounded out the meal and really made it complete. I had a good sweat on by the end of the meal, and without the rice to balance things out, I’m not sure I would have made it. The curry was really well done!
The pickles that were specifically from the area and I was told could not be replicated elsewhere were of particular interest to me. I regularly search out rare and individual dishes, and to be presented with one unsuspected was a pleasant treat. Unfortunately I was not a lover of the pickles, but felt obligated to finish the bowl so I wouldn’t upset our waiter who showed so much excitement when explaining them to me. He even took me over to a special table of local spices and ingredients after the meal and explained exactly how the pickles were made and why they’re unique. I didn’t really get it. They were kind of bland and not really my idea of a quality pickle.
Aside from the pickles, the meal was fantastic. It was an authentic representation of local cuisine and ingredients. The food was prepared exactly as we requested and the portions were large – sometimes uncommon for fine dining establishments. We both genuinely enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere and we were attended to promptly and professionally. The wait staff couldn’t do enough to impress and the food was the best I’ve had to date since arriving in India.
The Taj Lake Palace is expensive, but it was the finest hotel I’ve ever stayed at and the food was delightful. If in Udaipur and can afford a night or two at the Palace, it is definitely worth a visit.
Taj Lake Palace
Post Box No. 5, Lake Pichola
Udaipur – 313001
– 313 001
Tel: (91-294) 2428800
Fax: (91-294) 2528700
Food Quality 9/10
(Photography Credits – Kora Stephenson-Barrett)